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The Truth About Parabens

Carol and Rob Trow July 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
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Did you ever play a game called “Telephone” when you were younger? It would start by one person passing information to someone sitting next to him, and that person, in turn, would pass the message to the next person and so on. When the last person received the message and was asked to share it with the originator of the information, the final result was often a far cry from the original statement. Although no one intentionally meant to mislead, the facts became distorted, exaggerated or even false as word spread from one person to the next. The same can be said about what most industry professionals think they know about parabens and skin care.

It is time to go back to square one and revisit the original research that set off alarm bells, document what is known to be fact-based on the subsequent research, identify what has been proven and what remains uncertain, and highlight the most recent research findings.

Are parabens dangerous?

The issue of parabens and cancer is definitely not as simple as it may seem. Parabens are some of the most common preservatives used in personal care products, prescription drugs and even food. Beginning in 1998, studies in rats began to uncover that parabens had estrogenlike properties. Even though the findings uncovered a weak form of estrogen, it was there.1 This resulted in an avalanche of media attention.

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