What are Parabens?

Katharine Botanicals is proud to produce paraben free cosmetics but you may be wondering why we choose to do this and what parabens are in the first place. Parabens are chemicals that are used as preservatives throughout the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry. They can occur naturally to increase the longevity of fruits and seeds but all parabens that are used in cosmetics and food have been created synthetically. Items that frequently feature these chemicals as an active ingredient include deodorant, shower gel, hair removal cream, moisturiser and some foods.

Why Are Parabens Gaining Interest?

The use of parabens is widespread throughout the cosmetics industry and there have never been in depth studies related to the effect they will have on the human body. Whilst ingesting the chemicals breaks them down, applying them to the skin allows for them to be absorbed in their complete form. These chemicals closely resemble the hormone oestrogen, and it us currently unknown for certain how the body reacts to this additional oestrogen-like chemical. However there have been theories and studies that suggest a link to breast cancer (oestrogen has a known link with the development of breast tumours) and the decreasing age of girls entering puberty.

Studies into Parabens

In a 2004 study* that looked at samples of 20 breast tumours, parabens were found in each one, suggesting that these chemicals are linked to cancer, though it is unknown if this is cause or effect. Further study is required into the nature of this link but Phillipa Dabre (who carried out the study) also looks at the changing nature of breast tumours. Whilst one would expect to see them evenly distributed throughout the whole breast in different cases, instead 60% of cases are located towards the underarm. Dabre hypnothesises that this, and the "rising incidence of breast cancer", could be link to the increase use of paraben infused cosmetics being used in that area.

Your Choices

In recent years more and more companies are opting out of using parabens in their cosmetics. This has been a slow and quiet process but with an increase in information around their use, more and more consumers are able to make an educated choice on whether they want to opt for paraben free skincare and other products.

*'Underarm Cosmetics and Breast Cancer' P.H.Darbre (2003)  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jat.899/pdf

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