Research published last month in the Journal of Applied Toxicology (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jat.1786/abstract;jsessionid=D715345619D8FCC958CF30A4C10424A3.d01t04) indicates I’ve been right to boycott products containing parabens.
Examining human breast tissue collected from forty mastectomies for primary breast cancer between 2005 and 2008, scientists found parabens in virtually all samples. Paraben levels were highest in the upper-outer breast quadrants, where a disproportionate incidence of breast cancer occurs.
The technical name for this class of chemicals (including metaparaben and propylparaben) is para-amino benzoic acid. My inner cynic, forceful as ever, told me manufacturers changed its name to “paraben” a few years ago, when the public was beginning to realize benzoic acid was carcinogenic. “Paraben” is, after all, a friendlier name, more like something in your spice rack: a spoon of curry, a pinch of paraben.
Parabens are in many shampoos, moisturizers, shaving gels, personal lubricants, pharmaceuticals, spray tanning solutions, cosmetics, toothpastes, and processed foods. Serving as preservatives, parabens extend shelf life, not yours.
Does this report mean these cancers were caused by parabens? Not necessarily, but the association is too convincing to dismiss. For some reason incomprehensible to my Canadian relatives, we Americans don’t mind ingesting questionable chemicals until they’re absolutely proven poisonous—not easy to prove, considering cancer’s long gestation, our concurrent exposure to thousands of chemicals, and the FDA’s domination by a paraben-pushing industry. The Canadians have incorporated what they call the “Precautionary Principle” into law. Viewed through this lens, chemicals must be shown to be safe before they’re allowed into the market. So as you might expect, not as many make it as in the U.S.
My point here isn’t to legislate against carcinogenic chemicals. That window’s closed. The people who make a buck off them will bribe—excuse me, I mean lobby—legislators to keep them legal. I’m only telling you this so you’ll consider activating your own Precautionary Principle, and decline buying toxins, period.