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.