Learning the Value of Paraben-Free: Mom, Love and Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer parabens

Prior to my mother's diagnosis of breast cancer, I never valued the “paraben-free” designation on labels.  Like 2 out every 3 women diagnosed with breast cancer, Mom's tumor was estrogen-receptor-positive.  Simply put, estrogen feeds the cancer.  With surgery and radiation in her rearview, Mom will remain on the estrogen-blocking drug, Anastrozole, to starve any remaining cancer cells.   For Mom, and others with estrogen positive cancer, parabens may reduce the odds of remaining cancer-free because they mimic estrogen.   

Introduced in the 1950’s, parabens are highly reliable in thwarting bacteria growth in foods and personal care products, like shampoos, conditioners, deodorants/antiperspirants, lotions, scrubs, creams and serums.  An effective and inexpensive preservative, 85% of all skincare employ a combination of parabens -- methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben or other derivatives ending in “paraben”. In addition to combatting microbes, parabens are adept at finding their way into the body by permeating the epidermis while remaining intact, escaping any esterase breakdown.

Like other xenoestrogen compounds introduced to the body, parabens mirrors estrogen. Albeit a milder form than naturally occurring hormones or found in hormone replacement therapy, research supports that xenoestrogens can trigger the growth and proliferation of estrogen-loving cancer cells. In the battle against cancer, the avoidance of all xenoestrogens is all-important to Mom, and others with estrogen-loving cancers.

Research has yet to confirm that parabens cause breast cancer, nor significantly increase any risk.  Despite the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permitting the use of parabens, both agencies are currently re-evaluating safety with ongoing studies. Upon questioning, Mom’s Oncologist suggested that steering clear of any xenoestrogens was prudent though a clear link has yet to be established.

In my opinion, when it comes to my Mom’s health and developing my own skincare, avoiding parabens was a clear and painless choice.  Please consider sharing this information with the women that you love. 

  • To learn more about the environmental risks associated with breast cancer, see Susan G. Komen.
  • To learn more about cosmetic ingredients, see EWG’s Skin Deep. 

Older Post Newer Post

  • Angela on

    What an informative article! I had no idea how risky it was using skincare containing parabens. Quite honestly, I never even thought to question the ingredients in skincare. I would just use whatever product my dermatologist recommended. If it improved my skin, I would just continue to use it. If it had a negative effect on my skin, I would try something else. About-face works beautifully on my skin. The nia-cleanse is refreshing and thorough. The combination of redew and revive leave my skin feeling moisturized without any of the heaviness of other products I’ve tried throughout the years. Best of all, it is so easy! Thanks, about-face!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published