I've been hearing some talk about parabens recently and wanted to do a little research to find out what all the hoopla was about. This is what I have found in a nutshell...
What the heck are parabens?
Parabens are synthetic preservatives used in lots of products; most commonly cosmetics such as moisturizers, shampoos and deodorants. Several types of parabens exist: butylparaben, ethylparaben and methylparaben, to name a few. If some type of preservative wasn't used in a any given product that contains water, then it would mold and grow bacteria over time. Typically, the amount of preservative used in a product is very low. There are natural preservatives, such as some essential oils, that have anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties, however they often require high concentrations, don't last as long and are only useful against some bacteria/molds/etc. Parabens have been used for over 50 years, only require minimal amounts to be effective and are cheap.
So, what's the problem with using parabens?
Studies have shown that parabens have weak estrogen-like properties. Since this female hormone is known to cause breast cells to grow and divide, the concern is that parabens may be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Unfortunately, only one small study on this was conducted back in 2004 and the findings were basically inconclusive because of several factors that were overlooked. Larger studies must be done to find out if parabens really have any effect on breast cancer risks.
You want my personal opinion? I'll wait to see some solid study results before jumping to conclusions. It seems like there is always something new that people are worried about and I would just rather not live my life worrying about things unless I have to! You decide for yourself, do what you want, and we'll all be happy. :)