I mentioned this yesterday in a product review, and received so many e-mails about it, I decided to make it a separate post and address it further.
Parabens have been declared safe in the concentrations they are used in skin care and cosmetics – up to 0.25% in the United States. And based on the evidence, I agree with the FDA’s decision: parabens have not been shown to cause cancer or hormonal defects in the typical concentrations they are used in skin care or cosmetics products in vivo. Nor have they been shown to “build up” in the skin for longer than 36 hours at a time. [Read more: Spotlight On: Parabens]
Still, certain things don’t make sense. For instance, breast cancer tumors have been found to contain parabens (Journal of Applied Toxicology, 2004).
So if not from skin care and cosmetics, how did they get there?
And then it hit me: It must be from our food.
I’m not the first to think this: A study in the Journal of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology states we eat ten times more parabens in foods than we apply topically.
How to Avoid Parabens in Your Food
Parabens are found in some packaged:
- Pie crusts
- The jelly coatings of meat products
- Surface treatment of dried meat products
- Cereal- or potato-based snacks and coated nuts
- Confectionery (excluding chocolate)
- Liquid dietary food supplements
Why Haven’t We Heard About Parabens in Food Before?
There was one study in Food and Chemical Toxicology that argued the parabens in food are non-estrogenic in mice, whereas those in cosmetics were mildly so.
However, there is research to indicate that these parabens are getting into our system somewhere. Considering that only up to 60% of the small amount of parabens allowed in skin care and cosmetics is absorbed – and accumulates for only up to 3 days – I’m suspicious that we need to start questioning the parabens in our food more.
The scientific community clearly needs to investigate parabens in food more. However, if you have pledged to be on the safe side and avoid parabens in your skincare and cosmetics, be sure to avoid it in your food as well. I’m personally now avoiding parabens in food, which are listed as methyl-, ethyl- and propyl p-hydroxybenzoate.
What are your thoughts on parabens in food?