Life & Style Magazine

Evaluating the risks of parabens.

One recent Danish study, however, raised concerns. It showed that parabens could be detected in the blood and urine of healthy young male volunteers a few hours after paraben-containing lotions were applied to their skin. The authors concluded that since the chemicals could be absorbed, metabolized and excreted, they “could potentially contribute to adverse health effects.”

But Health Canada, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), a U.S.-based industry-sponsored panel of experts that evaluates the safety of cosmetic ingredients, have all deemed that parabens are safe at current exposure levels. The CIR examined parabens in 1984 and again in 2005, and both times concluded that parabens at the low levels found in personal care products are not a concern. In 2005, the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products confirmed that the use of methyl- and ethyl-paraben is safe as regulated. It is gathering data on other parabens.

But researchers and organizations such as the U.S. Environmental Working Group say research must not just look at individual product exposure but must find a way to evaluate the cumulative impact of many products used over many years. EWG’s surveys show the average adult consumer uses nine personal care products a day.

For consumers like Jude Isabella, a Victoria, B.C. mom and the editor of a national children’s science magazine, the debate, while inconclusive, is enough for her to limit her exposure. Since cancer runs in her family, she shops for cosmetic products labelled “paraben free,” including expensive organic deodorant from a health food store for her two teenage boys. “Why slather yourself with chemicals when we don’t yet have the answer? I’m not paranoid, but I’d rather err on the side of caution,” she says.

Darren Praznik, president of the Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (the leading trade association for personal care products in Canada), says the organization is very sensitive to consumer concerns, but that the ingredients used in products are strictly regulated and monitored by Health Canada. “We are satisfied that the regulation process is robust, science-based and protects the consumer.”

Some manufacturers have gone on the record about their long-term plans to find paraben replacements, including the manufacturers of UREAKA! Therapeutic Barrier Skin Cream, Germiphene Corporation.



By Anne Mullens: Best Health Magazine – Summer 2008