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Learn About The Hidden Additive in Your Cosmetics

Whether you've heard of them are not, it is important to know about the role of parabens in our lives. Parabens are a chemical used in many cosmetic products to prevent bacterial growth. While parabens have been used since the 1950s, there are new forms of them that you should watch out for.


Photo: marin/ freedigitalphotos.net

Forms of parabens like butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben have been deemed xenoestrogens, or agents that mimic estrogen in the body. This excess of estrogen can in turn cause breast, ovarian and prostate cancer in men. But are the paraben-based products we use the direct cause of these serious health conditions?

The answer is partially yes, and partially no. In 2004, Phillipa Darbre of Britain found a number of parabens present in a malignant breast tumor, drawing the conclusion that these compounds sparked the occurrence of the cancer in the first place. However, other doctors assert that Darbre's test was not correctly conducted and assert that the level of estrogen in parabens is so weak that it couldn't have such a serious effect.

So with all of these new paraben-free labels, what's the answer? Parabens are in so many of our favorite products, like soaps, mascaras and shampoo, so does this mean that we have to throw them all out?

The answer is no, you do not have to throw out all of your paraben products at once. Keep using the products you love, but consult a doctor to make sure that your levels of estrogen aren't too high. If you are worried about the effect of parabens, there are a number of new products on the marked that are marked 'paraben-free'. It is most likely that in the next two years, most cosmetic companies will cease to make their products with parabens, because of the bad stigma.

So what is the real truth about parabens? Although they have been linked with breast and ovarian cancer in women, parabens are still considered safe at low levels by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. That means that they need not be completely avoided, but if many of your favorite products have parabens, you should probably start looking for paraben-free replacements.

Here are a number of commonly found paraben-free brands:


Burt's Bees

Dr. Hauschka



Pangea Organics

Josie Maran Cosmetics

...and many more!

And on the way, learning about parabens will give you that extra push to throw away all those beauty products you don't use anymore...

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