For over 80 years, so-called “parabens” have been widely used in a vast range of cosmetics products as well as in foodstuffs, as preservatives and, more specifically speaking, as bacterial inhibitors.
It is important to know how to recognise and avoid them.
In cosmetics, they are listed as ethyl-, propyl-, butyl-, methyl- (paraben).
In foodstuffs, they appear as E214, E215, E216, E217, E218 and E219.
In foodstuffs: the theories regarding the toxicity of this family of preservatives are divergent. They are preservatives that are generally excreted in urine in the form of hippuric acid, and therefore usually do not accumulate in the human body. This notwithstanding, there is reason to believe that they are not so harmless after all. Indeed, it is thought that, in the future, they may even be banned.
It is believed that parabens can cause: gastric irritation with related digestive problems, growth problems, insomnia, asthma, eye irritation, hives, hyperactivity, and allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to aspirin or who suffer from asthma.
Research has been being conducted for over 15 years now to determine whether or not they have negative effects on the reproductive organs and on embryos.
For all of the above reasons, the frequent consumption of foods that contain parabens, especially by children, is to be avoided. They are very commonly found in sauces, mayonnaise and ketchup.
Ethyl-, propyl-, and butylparaben have been shown to have oestrogenic effects as powerful of those of Bisphenol A (*)
Parabens have been proven to be oestrogenic both in vivo and in vitro (+), and have been found in the human tissue of breast tumours (°), in umbilical cord blood and in breast milk (-).
Dr. Philip Harvey, toxicologist and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Applied Toxicology, maintains that the regular daily application of a body cream containing parabens to the area around the chest and breasts leads to the absorption of a quantity of parabens equivalent to a significant amount of oestradiol (the human body’s natural oestrogen), compared with the natural concentrations of oestradiol in human breast tissue. (**)
The other big problem, which has only recently been taken into consideration, is accumulation: the presence of substances, such as parabens, in many products could lead to progressively toxic effects and intolerance.
(*) Brown, N.J., Health Hazard Manual for Cosmetologists, Hairdressers, Beauticians and Barbers, Cornell University, Chemical Hazard Information Program, 1987; online at http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/manuals/6.
(+) English, J.S.C., Current Concepts of irritant contact dermatitis, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2004; 6: 722-726.
(°) Temporary Tattoos and Henna/Mehndi, US Department of Health and Human Services, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centre for Foods Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), Office of Cosmetics and Colors, College Park, MD, 18 April 2001; updated 18 September 2006; online at www.cfsan.fda.gov.
(-) McFadden, J.P., Allergy to hair-dye, British Medical Journal, 2007; 334:220.
(**) Patel, S. et al., Patch test frequency to p.phenylenediamine: follow up over the last 6 years, Contact, Dermatitis, 2007; 56:35-37.
On the market there are many deodorants and other cosmetic products and foodstuffs containing parabens. In light of the doubts surrounding the safety of these substances, it is definitely a good idea to choose products that are paraben-free.
Naturaequa does not use parabens in its products.
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