Over the last few years more attention has been placed on how many of the standard beauty products that we use have harsh and even toxic ingredients. We are going to dive deeper into one specific type called parabens and why it is a good idea to avoid them when you can. Parabens are defined as a group of compounds that are used as a preservative that are used in pharmaceuticals, cosmetic products and the food industry. Specifically, when looking at beauty products they are used in shampoos, conditioners, lotions, facial products, shower cleansers or scrubs. It is estimated that about 85% of cosmetic products contain parabens. Parabens are used as a microbial agent which kills bacteria. The good news is that most products only contain trace amounts of parabens. The issue then comes when you are using many products that contain parabens and it eventually overwhelms your system.
So, what is the big deal with parabens anyway? One of the major health concerns is that this group of compounds are endocrine disruptors, which are any chemicals that interfere with the endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in humans. They are also known to cause issues with hormones, specifically reproductive hormones. Parabens are very similar in structure to estrogen and can even bind to the same receptor site on the cell. In this case all that estrogen has nowhere to go and levels increase in your body. One complication of excess estrogen can be that is related to a higher rate of breast cancer.
Currently, there are no regulations in the United States on parabens. Both the FDA and World Health Organization have deemed that these chemicals are safe in low amounts. The question remains what exactly is considered low levels? Even if you cut down on some of the products that parabens you are lowering your exposure. For instance, getting a lotion without parabens because you put that on more surface area of your body. You can physically check your products to see if they have parabens. Some of the names to look for on the labels include: ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, isoprylparaben anything else ending in paraben. If you want to see if there are parabens in your favorite products a great resource is the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep free online database. See link below!
Another place to compare your beauty and personal care products is using the Think Dirty App. This application can be downloaded on your smartphone, and even allows you to scan the barcodes of products in your home, and in the store! See the link below for more information!
From the chiropractic perspective one of the three T’s that cause subluxations, or spinal misalignments, are toxins. By using clean products, you have less things in your body inhibiting your nervous system from doing its job. In the end we don’t know the ultimate effects of using the preservative in the long run. The best thing is to do your research and use less products with harmful chemicals.