You might not expect health dangers to be lurking in an innocent bottle of shampoo or conditioner. Yes, we all know they sting if they get into your eyes. But recent medical studies have revealed even more serious dangers— a link between the presence of parabens in personal hygiene products and certain neurological and metabolic disorders. And they pose a danger to people of all ages.
Before you rush off to check the labels of your shampoos and other products in your bathroom, let’s take a closer look at parabens and their effects on us humans.
What Are Parabens?
Parabens are a group of chemicals used in many personal hygiene and cosmetic products to preserve the product and prevent the build-up of bacteria. After all, no one wants to be applying mouldy shampoo or conditioner to their hair in the shower.
But parabens are believed to contain endocrine disruptors which affect the normal function of the endocrine system. That’s the system that controls key areas of the body:
- Pituitary gland
- Adrenal glands
- Thyroid gland
When the body is functioning normally, only small changes to hormone levels will be registered. However, extended exposure to products containing endocrine disruptors can cause health problems.
What Sorts of Problems Can Parabens Cause?
It’s thought that even a low dose of an endocrine disrupting chemical can change the body’s systems and lead to health problems.
One such effect is a lowering of sexual reproduction levels in males via a reduced sperm count. Studies involving animals have also revealed that parabens can reduce the length of reproductive tracts.
Another study suggests that frequent use of products containing parabens can have long-term estrogenic effects.
Moreover, multiple studies show parabens can have a negative impact on the normal function of breast cells. This has the potential to influence abnormal growth which increases the risk of breast cancer.
The Impact on Pregnant Mothers and Children
Parabens have been detected in placentas, showing they can transfer from mother to foetus via the bloodstream; exposing unborn children to the potentially damaging effects revealed by another study that showed extended exposure to parabens can:
- Adversely affect brain development
- Lead to damage to the immune system development process
- Negatively impact learning, explorative, and emotional behaviours
- Cause childhood obesity and diabetes
Repeated Use Is the Problem
Because parabens are prevalent in so many products, it’s leading to many people continually exposing themselves to the dangers they pose. This leads to a build-up of parabens in the body at a faster rate than the body is able to rid itself of them.
What’s the Solution?
Look for products labeled “paraben-free.” Avoid products containing parabens! Common parabens and their synonyms include:
propylparaben (or propyl 4-hydroxylbenzoate),
butylparaben (or butyl 4-hydroxylbenzoate),
ethylparaben (or ethyl 4-hydroxylbenzoate)
heptylparaben (or heptyl 4-hydroxylbenzoate),
methylparaben (or methyl 4-hydroxybenzoate)
As trusted manufacturers of shampoos and conditioners, we are aware of the growing evidence against parabens and have created paraben-free products.