Parabens? No thanks!

  • There are no restrictions on the use
    of parabens in cosmetics in Canada

  • Parabens easily penetrate the skin. (1)

  • They are suspected of interfering with hormone function (endocrine disruption)(2)

  • Parabens may also interfere with male reproductive functions.(3)

  • Parabens in foods are metabolized when eaten, making them less strongly estrogenic.(4) In contrast, when applied to the skin and absorbed into the body, parabens in cosmetics bypass the metabolic process and enter the blood stream and body organs intact.(5)


In an American study, parabens have been detected in human breast cancer tissues, suggesting a possible association between parabens in cosmetics and cancer.(6)

Studies conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did find four different parabens in human urine samples, indicating exposure despite the very low levels in products.(7)

For more information on this substance:

(1) U.S. Food and Drug Administration, "Parabens", Cosmetics > Product and Ingredient Safety, October 31, 2007, http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductandIngredientSafety/Selected-CosmeticIngredients/ucm128042.htm.

(2) Study on Enhancing the Endocrine Disrupter Priority List with a Focus on Low Production Volume Chemicals, Revised Report to DG Environment (Hersholm, Danemark : DHI Water and Environment, 2007), http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/endocrine/strategy/substances_en.htm.

(3) Darbre PD et PW Harvey, "Paraben esters: review of recent studies of endocrine toxicity, absorption, esterase and human exposure, and discussion of potential human health risks", Journal of Applied Toxicology 28, no. 5 (July 2008): 561-78.

(4) Vince, G., "Cosmetic chemicals found in breast tumours", New Scientist, January 12, 2004, http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn4555-cosmetic-chemicals-found-in-breast-tumours.html.

(5) Epstein, Samuel S, Toxic Beauty (Dallas: BenBella Books, 2009), 30.

(6) Darbre, P.D. et al., "Concentrations of parabens in human breast tumours", Journal of Applied Toxicology 24, no. 1 (February 2004): 5-13.

(7) Ye, X. et al., "Environmental Health Perspectives: Parabens as Urinary Biomarkers of Exposure in Humans", Environmental Health Perspectives 114 (August 29, 2006): 1843-6; Ye, X. et al., "Temporal stability of the conjugated species of bisphenol A, parabens, and other environmental phenols in human urine", Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology 17 (septembre 2007): 567-572.