Posted on: 17th Mar, 2017
You may have heard about some of the controversy surrounding parabens. They’ve been used in cosmetics for decades, but lately there have been murmurings about their potential ability to damage your health, and they’ve even been linked to breast cancer cases in women. So at APSkincare, this week we’re taking a look at parabens, and whether you should avoid using them or not for your own skin.
Basically, parabens are a family of related chemicals that are used as preservatives in cosmetics products, including skincare products. Methlyparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben are just a few examples of ingredients that are probably around on your bathroom shelf now in cleansers, lotions, toners and foundations. Parabens aren’t new, either – we’ve been using them since the 1950s, and most of the products that use them have more than one. The chemical names sound a bit scary, but what they do definitely isn’t; they protect the product from becoming overloaded with bacteria, mould or fungus. When you think about it, a warm and moist place like your bathroom is the perfect environment for these sorts of nasties to develop, so in that sense, parabens definitely play an important role in keeping you healthy. Despite that though, for the last ten years or so they’ve been the subject of quite a bit of controversy.
In a nutshell, parabens have a weak ability to mimic oestrogen (a major factor in breast cancer cases), so people are wondering if they’re linked to breast cancer. A study published all the way back in 2004 from a team at Reading University showed that parabens had been found in 18 out of 20 samples of tissue from breast cancer biopsies. OK, so maybe that’s a little worrying, but other scientists have pointed out that there wasn’t any noncancerous tissue studied to see whether parabens were present there, too. Also, there’s that age-old scientific maxim about correlation not equalling causation – basically, just because parabens were found in cancerous tissue doesn’t necessarily mean that they cause cancer!
That one’s a little tricky, and at the moment we can’t say for certain. In short, there’s a chance that parabens could cause health issues, but no one quite knows for sure. No conclusive link has been proven, and some big healthcare organisations have had a long hard look at the question. The US Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada, Cosmetic Ingredient Review and the World Health Organisation have all deemed that parabens are currently at safe levels. And while it’s true that lots of your skincare products do contain parabens, they are in seriously minute amounts. You can still avoid them if you want – if you prefer to be safe than sorry, there are lots of options for going paraben-free (for example our glo minerals makeup). We’ll leave you to make your own mind up, but all we’re saying at APSkincare is that you probably don’t need to immediately throw out everything in your bathroom cupboard.
If you’re still unsure, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call us on 01254 29700. Or, you can pop into our skincare clinic in Blackburn and talk to one of our experts in person! While you’re there, why not see about some of our skincare treatments, and if any of them might be right for you?
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