Parabens are a group of mostly synthetic antimicrobial preservatives used in food and cosmetics. They are cheap and easy to produces, and are found in everything from deodorant and toothpaste to sunscreen.
Parabens are part of a group of chemicals called endocrine disruptors. What this means is that these chemicals mimic hormones within the body. In the case of parabens they mimic estrogen and can even bind to estrogen receptors. They increase the expression of many genes that are usually regulated by estradiol and cause human breast tumor cells. When developing males are exposed to these chemicals it can affect their production of testosterone and the development of male sex characteristics.
A 2010 study conducted by the CDC sampled 100 adults, and found parabens in the urine of almost all of them. Recent studies have found parabens in tumors found in breast tissue. The FDA states that while parabens are know estrogenic compounds that their effect is not as great as the body’s own natural estrogen, and therefore is considered safe in its current uses.
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