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Parabens, Carcinogens and Certified Organic Ingredients

By: Rebecca James Gadberry
Posted: June 25, 2008, from the January 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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The SCCP report also notes that methylparaben was the most frequently occurring paraben found in the breast tumors, yet it contains the lowest estrogenic activity. The strongest estrogen mimic—butylparaben—was the least represented, probably due to its larger molecular size. And, although Darbe suggests that the paraben source may be underarm cosmetics, the SCCP states that 98% of underarm products, including deodorants and antiperspirants, do not contain them. Therefore, it is highly doubtful that the substance could have come from these products.

The SCCP concluded that “There is no evidence of demonstrable risk for the development of breast cancer caused by paraben-containing underarm cosmetics,” especially in view of the weak estrogenic potential of these ingredients. “With regard to their general toxicological profile, acute, subacute and chronic toxicity studies in rats, dogs and mice have proven parabens to be practically nontoxic, not carcinogenic, not genotoxic or co-carcinogenic, and not teratogenic (i.e. fetal toxicants).”

Although the safety of parabens that are applied to the skin is practically conclusive, their effects, along with those of other EDs in the environment, remain a concern. However, removing them from cosmetics will do little good if the rest of the 8,000 EDs in the environment are not decreased.

Q. I recently heard that California now has a law that prohibits the use of carcinogens in cosmetics. Is this true?

A . No. The law you are referring to—the California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005—does not prohibit the use of any ingredients in cosmetics. Instead, it requires cosmetic manufacturers and brands with total company sales of $1,000,000 or more to report those products that include chemical ingredients identified by the state’s Department of Health Services (DHS) as known or suspected carcinogens or fetal toxicants to the organization. In addition, cosmetic companies must report fragrance and flavor compounds that are on the same list of chemicals. The bill apparently applies to ingredients that appear ona product’s ingredients list, but not to the residual elements of those ingredients.