Parabens+phthalates: daily exposures that lead to toxicity
Do you know what’s in your makeup?
These are chemicals used as preservatives to improve shelf stability of products. Its antimicrobial activity prevents the growth of mold, yeast, and bacteria. Parabens have been around since the 1920s and are found everywhere, including our water, soil, and house dust.
These are chemicals used in plastics, solvents, and fragrance. They increase the durability and flexibility of plastics and are found in most plastic items. They often leach and are readily absorbed through our skin.
Parabens have been detected in 99% of urinary samples from American adults.
One study found that 95% of breast cancer tumors contained concentrations of at least one type of paraben.
Phthalates are stable and persist in the environment (estimated half-life range from 12 hours to 3 weeks).
Studies found phthalates in 95% of human blood samples collected. Evidence suggests phthalates may impact reproductive development and impair fertility.
Parabens and phthalates are endocrine disruptors with estrogenic and anti-androgen effects. They mimic the effects of hormones and disrupt the body’s normal hormonal response. Increased estrogen binding beyond normal levels can increase the risk of cancer, infertility, reproductive harm during development, ADHD, and impact weight.
Parabens are lipophilic with a tendency to accumulate in adipose tissue, such as breast tissue. Studies show that parabens can alter gene expression and basically turn on cancer causing cells and accelerate the growth of cancer.
WEIGHT GAIN + OBESITY
Research shows that plasma paraben levels are higher in women with elevated BMIs (body mass index, also a measurement of weight). Elevated levels of parabens and phthalates have been linked to increased risk for metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and GLP-1 resistance, which are all associated with obesity.
Animal studies show that prenatal exposure may have transgenerational impacts (meaning it affects multiple generations). Pups with higher phthalate exposure in utero showed altered brain development, social deficits, and withdrawn behavior.
PARABENS+PHTHALATES COMMONLY FOUND IN:
– skincare products
– hair care products
– soaps and detergents
– diapers, feminine products, wipes
– anything with fragrance or perfume
PARABENS+PHTHALATES IN PROCESSED FOODS
– alcoholic beverages
– food in packaging
– baked goods and desserts
– fruit and vegetable juices and soft drinks
– flavoring syrups and sugar substitutes
FOODS WITH HIGH LEVELS OF PARABENS:
– pancake syrup
– iced tea
– turkey breast and roast
– apple pie
– red wine
The European Union has banned a number of parabens and phthalates, regularly updates concentration limits, and banned parabens in ‘leave in’ products intended for children (due to developmental concerns). Asian countries have followed suit and placed similar bans.
The FDA has NOT banned any parabens, considers its use safe, and haven’t changed guidelines for concentration limits in the past 35+ years.
Long story short:
They’re synthetic chemicals that are found in basically everything.
Most significant impact:
– endocrine disruption
– breast cancer
What can we do:
– reduce exposure
– use safer, non-toxic products
– support the body’s detox pathways
Best ways to reduce exposure + how to find safer products coming up in Part 2!