Taking down a multi-tasking personal care product ingredient.
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Today we are going to take on some hard working ladies - a group of chemicals called parabens. Parabens are endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen. That means that they attach themselves to estrogen receptors in cells and mimic the action of the body’s natural estrogen, fooling the body into making hormonal changes and disrupting its natural systems.

What You Need to Know

Parabens are used in a wide range of personal care products such as preservatives, antifungal, and antimicrobial agents, and are absorbed through the skin. Parabens will appear on product labels, usually closer to the end of ingredient lists.

Parabens can have several different prefixes (commons ones are ethylparaben, methylparaben and butylparaben), so look for chemicals that end in –paraben.

While no one wants fungi or microbes multiplying in our favorite moisturizer, we want breast cancer even less (like, a million times less). That’s why so many safer cosmetic companies have figured out how to make their products without parabens – so it’s pretty easy to dramatically cut these chemicals out of your routine. Take a look around your shopping stomping grounds--can you see how many personal care products now boast “paraben-free”?

Where to Startcosmetics.jpg

  • Lotion, creams and ointments
  • Shampoo
  • Soap, facial & shower cleansers
  • Deodorants
  • Feminine products like washes, wipes, and sprays

Dive a Little Deeper

Parabens are both ubiquitous and persistent. Even if we assume that there is a “low” level per product, repeated application of a product (or multiple products, which is likely given their high use in personal care items) containing parabens makes for greater exposure to these toxic chemicals. Parabens are found in nearly all urine samples from adults in the United States, regardless of ethnic, socioeconomic, or geographic background. Parabens have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors. They’re linked to breast cancer, skin cancer, and developmental and reproductive toxicity.

Craving More?

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics  Check out the section labeled “Health Concerns” to understand the potential risks of parabens - endocrine disruption, skin cancer, and developmental and reproductive toxicity. The “References” section provides details on the studies cited in the article.

Concentrations of Parabens in Human Breast Tumours This study examines the levels of Parabens found in breast tumors and “demonstrates that at least a proportion of the parabens present in cosmetic, food and pharmaceutical products can be absorbed and retained in human body tissues”.

Parabens in Breast Cancer Cells An examination on how synthetic chemicals mimic estrogen in the body and have been linked to an increase in breast cancer.

Savvy Members

One question we haven't answered is "What to do with the product you have purchased?" There isn't a right answer, but in the Savvy Cafe you can learn what other ladies have chosen to do. 

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Mugshots Scavenger Hunt 
Savvy's Mugshot series selects topics where you can reduce harmful chemical exposure through knowledge and action.
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