Testing Myself for Parabens

By Suzanne Price

What are Parabens?

Parabens are a group of chemicals that are often used as preservatives in personal care products. Parabens have been shown to easily penetrate the skin when applied in lotions and soaps. The European Commission on Endocrine Disruption has listed parabens as Category 1 priority substances, based on evidence that they interfere with hormone function, as they can mimic estrogen, the primary female sex hormone. They have been detected in human breast cancer tissues and can also interfere with male reproductive functions. Five types of parabens have been banned for use in personal care in Europe (isopropylparaben, isobutylparaben, phenylparaben, benzylparaben, and pentylparaben) and two others (butylparaben and propylparaben) have been banned in Denmark for children under 3.

My Parabens Test Results

I tested for parabens in my body through a wonderful organization called the Silent Spring Institute. Anyone can do this themselves with a donation. The results on the two main parabens tested showed that I had significantly less amounts of parabens in my body than the average American (see image above). I had lower levels than the average person taking this test as well. This was a relief as I work hard to keep parabens out of our home by using only the safest personal care products I can find. Some examples of the products we use with our children can be found in Sprout’s Personal Care section.

Of course it was disappointing to find any levels of parabens in my body at all. There is only so much we can individually control as we are exposed to products in our daily lives (cleaning products, detergents, etc) at work and school and when visiting friends. What I always tell people though, is to do what you can do. Controlling your home environment the best you can does make a different. When it comes to hormone disrupting chemicals, the dose matters. Less exposure is better, so I was relieved to see my levels at least lower than the average.

How to Avoid Parabens

The good news is that reading labels is an effective way to avoid parabens. They are not hidden under fragrance as phthalates are. Look at your personal care ingredients and avoid anything that ends in the letters “-paraben”. Throw away the bad products in your house and replace them with healthier ones. It is never too late to make a change!

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