Parabens act as a preservative in many types of formulas such as but not limited to: shampoos, moisturizers, shaving gels, lubricants, topical/parenteral pharmaceuticals, makeup, spray
tanning solution, toothpaste and even in our food. Parabens are a class of chemicals which are widely used as preservatives by pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. And are common due to their low cost. They have become increasingly controversial, because they have been found in breast cancer tumors (with an average of 20 manograms/g of tissue). Parabens also has the ability to slightly mimic estrogen which is a hormone that plays a role in the development of breast cancer. Parabens and cancer have not been directly linked but established and may be a factor in the increasing prevalence of early puberty in girls.
Chemically, parabens are esters of p-hydroxybenzoid acid and the most common parabens used in cosmetics products are: methylparaben, proplparaben and butylparaben. Generally, more than one paraben is used in a product, and are commonly used with other types of preservatives to provide preservation against microorganisms.
Cosmetics that are sold on a retail basis to consumers are required by law to declare ingredients on the label. This is highly important information for consumers who want to determine whether a product contains an ingredient which they wish to avoid. Unfortunately, The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act does not authorize the FDA to approve cosmetic ingredients (with the exception of color additives that are not coal-tar hair dyes). Typically, cosmetic manufactures are allowed to use any ingredient they choose, excluding a few ingredients which are prohibited from regulation.
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