Section : Controversy

“Paraben-free” doesn’t mean safe (For Professionals)

Paraben free !

  • You may probably have heard this many times and lots of physicians prescribe products which do not contain them. But paraben-free products may also contain other dangerous substances, most notably those called phtalates.
  • Parabens (parahydroxybenzoate) and phtalates are preservatives commonly found in many products such as cosmetics, shampoos, sunscreens….and the list goes on and on. Contrarily to common belief these substances can be absorbed and have been detected in urine.
  • Let us start with parabens. These substances carry various labels, the most frequently found being methyl-paraben, propyl-paraben, ethyl-paraben. It is well known that such products are absorbed in the dermis, enhance the production of estrogens and raise fears that it might be a risk factor for developing breast cancer.
  • More troubling are the phtalates. The risks are often minimized and these substances can also be found in products touted as being paraben-free. Phtalates are misleadingly often labelled as “fragrance”.
  • Although phtalates have a short have life and are quickly eliminated, potential health hazards include infertility, testicular dysgenesis, obesity, asthma, and allergies, as well as leiomyomas and breast cancer. Note that there is no exclusive known etiology to these conditions and that many confounding factors could play a role.
  • Luckily in France as well as other European countries (, these substances have been banned  but they are still widely available wordlwide (including Canada and the United States).
  • Obviously parabens and phtalates are preservatives which enable a product to strongly increase its shelf life. It is important for the reader to know that benefits outweigh risks for medications containing them, but is more questionable for day-to-day consumer products including sunscreens.
  • Further reading and references may be found in the following article:

Toxic effects of the easily avoidable phthalates and parabens.

Crinnion WJ.

 Altern Med Rev. 2010 Sep;15(3):190-6.

Category : paraben - Modifie le 04.29.2011Category : parabène - Modifie le 04.29.2011Category : parabènes - Modifie le 04.29.2011Category : parabens - Modifie le 04.29.2011Category : phtalates - Modifie le 04.29.2011