Most Read March 13, 2021

Parabens: What They Are & How It Brings Health Issue?

Parabens are preservatives used in a wide variety of personal care products and foods to prevent the growth of microbes. What are they & How it brings health issue on endocrine disruption and reproductive harm?

The Endocrine System 

The endocrine system is the collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood, among other things.  The endocrine system is made up of the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, adrenal glands, pancreas, ovaries (in females) and testicles (in males).


What are Parabens?

Parabens are preservatives used in a wide variety of personal care products and foods to prevent the growth of microbes. These endocrine-disrupting chemicals can be absorbed through skin, blood and the digestive system.



Parabens are actually several distinct chemicals with a similar molecular structure. Several are common in a wide array cosmetic and personal care products.

FOUND IN: Shampoos, conditioners, lotions, facial and shower cleansers and scrubs.

Ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, other ingredients ending in –paraben


Parabens can act like the hormone estrogen in the body and disrupt the normal function of hormone systems affecting male and female reproductive system functioning, reproductive development, fertility and birth outcomes. Parabens can also interfere with the production of hormones. 

Parabens are potential endocrine disruptors due to their ability to mimic estrogen. In cell studies, parabens have been found to weakly bind to estrogen receptors. Studies demonstrate that at sufficient concentrations, parabens can increase cell proliferation in human breast cancer MCF-7 cells, which are often used as a sensitive measure of estrogenic activity. In MCF-7 cells, isopropyl- and isobutyl parabens have the most potent of proliferative potency, but they are around 170,000 times lower than estradiol. 

The so-called “long chain” parabens (butylparaben and its alternative form, isobutylparaben and isopropylparaben and propylparaben) have the strongest estrogenic activity among those widely used in personal care products. A study of prenatal isobutylparaben exposure in rats demonstrated increased uterus weight and uterine sensitivity to estrogen in the offspring. Ethylparaben showed lower levels of estrogenic activity and methylparaben shows almost no estrogen activity. In addition to direct estrogenic effects, parabens can block androgens (for example, testosterone) and inhibit enzymes that metabolize estrogen. 

The Endocrine Disruption Exchange includes methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isopropylparaben, isobutylparaben as endocrine disruptors due the multiple endocrine effects described above.


Applying personal care product containing parabens—especially methylparaben—can lead to UV-induced damage of skin cells and disruption of cell proliferation (cell growth rate). Daily application, in particular, can lead to increased concentrations of methylparaben because it is not completely metabolized. Parabens combined with other estrogenic chemicals may potentially influence the development of malignant melanoma, one form of skin cancer, through their estrogenic and genotoxic activites.


Propyl and butyl parabens appear to reduce sperm production, and lead to reduced testosterone levels, while methyl- and ethyl-parabens do not affect sperm production. These effects appear to be dose-dependent. In addition, one study found that maternal exposure to butylparaben during gestation and lactation alters the development of the reproductive organs and sperm production. In general, propyl- and butylparabens, specifically, appear disrupt male reproductive system and affect the reproductive organs. This is consistent with their estrogenic activity noted above.

Laboratory evidence suggests that maternal exposure to isobutylparaben during gestation can lead to anxiety and behavioral changes in offspring.



Here are some simple steps to help you get started

1. Always read your labels!
Front of packaging claims can be–and often are–misleading. Get in the habit of reading the product ingredients just like you would for food.

2. Know the difference between Latin names and chemicals.
Long words are a little bit intimidating, especially when they’re in tiny print on the bottom of a small deodorant stick. But not all long words are bad ones. Aloe barbadensis, for example, is just the Latin name for the highly beneficial aloe leaf plant (good). Methylparaben, however, is a member of the paraben family, and therefore poses health risks (bad).



For those who want to know more about health

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): How Safe It Is?


In the beginning

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.

1 Pet 3:3-4                              

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