Parabens and Propylene Glycol
Regulatory agencies including the Food and Drug Administration [USA] and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review [USA] found that the use of parabens in all products doesn't come close to becoming unsafe. A review by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review found that parabens are safe for use in cosmetic products at levels up to 25 percent. Typically, those products only use parabens at levels ranging from 0.01 percent to 0.3 percent.
Parabens are one of most wrongly maligned ingredients in the cosmetic industry. Most 'natural' companies embellish a study done by Dr Darbre and implicate that by using any cosmetic with parabens in will put you at a higher risk of breast cancer. The fact that only a handful of scientists felt any need to comment on this study goes unmentioned. They also would like you to believe that parabens are no good for sensitive and eczema prone skins as they will cause allergies
These are the facts:
The parabens are not carcinogenic or mutagenic. As far as parabens causing allergies, contact sensitisation has occurred when parabens have been applied to damaged or broken skin but high concentrations of 5-15% in patch testing are needed to elicit reaction in susceptible individuals.” (Soni M, et al, Food ChemToxicol, 39(6), 2001); (Soni M, et al, Food ChemToxicol, 40(10), 2002). These amounts they are referring to do not occur in cosmetic use.
Individually parabens are not used higher than 0.4% in a product, and total combined parabens in a product is limited to 1.2%. Interestingly enough parabens are found naturally in raspberries and blackberries where it acts as an antimicrobial agent. According to the American Academy of Dermatology 'The best preservatives for sensitive skin are those containing parabens' (2002 Prof Zoe Draelos, Summer Scientific Meeting, New York, AAD, 2002.)
The Darbre study showed that parabens can be absorbed through the skin and accumulate in breast cancer tissue in their original form, without being degraded. The study also did not identify the route by which the parabens entered the body. No data was collected as to whether or not the patients from whom the tumours were excised used personal care products that contained parabens.
Scientists have also proposed that parabens were present in the tissues samples only due to
contamination because they were also detected in the control samples, which should have been clear of all traces of the compound. For this, and several other reasons, this study has been largely discredited by many cancer research organisations, and much of the rest of the scientific community. The fact that no further research since 1994 has been able to prove this urban myth, does not seem to be questioned by natural magazines who are intent on selling their own agenda to consumers.
The cancer argument is based on the ability of parabens to mimic the hormone estrogen, which is known to play a role in the development of breast cancers. Laboratory research however has shown that they would have to be 500 to10,000 times more potent to do this, and even the strongest oestrogen mimetic out of the parabens – butylparaben – is 100,000 times weaker than oestrogen. In a review of the estrogenic activity of parabens, (Golden et al., in Critical Reviews in Toxicology, 2005) the author concluded that based on maximum daily exposure estimates, it was implausible that parabens could increase the risk associated with exposure to estrogenic chemicals.
Methyl and propyl parabens have such weak oestrogenic activity that no activity was detected in vivo in classical uterotrophic assays using high dose oral or subcutaneous rodent administrations (AFC Panel, European Food Safety Authority, 13 July 2004).
Parabens offer substantially less risk than naturally occurring endocrine active chemicals in the diet such as the phytooestrogendaidzein. In addition, the American Cancer Society has concluded that there is no good scientific evidence to support the claim using cosmetics containing parabens increases an individual's risk of developing breast cancer.
Perhaps we should also avoid the following foods as well because they have far more potent
oestrogenic activity than parabens: alfalfa, almonds, anise, apple, banana, barley, broccoli, cabbage, canola, cauliflower, carrot, cherry, chickpea; clover, coffee, corn, cumin, damiana, fennel, flaxseed, garlic, green bean, hop, lemon, lemon balm, licorice, lima bean seeds, mint, oats, oregano, pea, pinto bean seeds, pomegranate, plum, potato, rice, rice bran, rye, rape, sage, sesame, soybean, split pea, sunflower seed, thyme, turmeric, verbena, wheat, wheat bran, wheat germ, yam & yeast.
Included are the oils of olive, corn, safflower, wheat germ, soybean, rice bran, peanut and coconut. (Sob M, Naturally Occurring Estrogens, in CRC Handbook of Naturally Occurring Food Toxicants, Miloslav R (Ed), CRC Press, 1983); (Davis D & Bradlow H, Sciamer, Oct 1995); (Davis D et al, Nature Sci Med, May/June 1997); (Zava D et al, Proc Soc Exp Biol Med, 217(3), 1998)
Propylene Glycol is an organic alcohol found in a wide variety of cosmetics, fragrances, personal care products and even food. Once it is absorbed by the skin, this ingredient is metabolized into lactic acid, which is the substance that occurs naturally when muscles are exercised. Still, this colourless and viscous liquid is getting a bad reputation as a toxic and dangerous ingredient that should be avoided at all costs.
Why is Propylene Glycol used in beauty products?
Propylene Glycol is used in beauty products for several reasons. It is used to attract water, keeping skin hydrated , as a solvent to dissolve other substances, and to help active ingredients penetrate the skin better. Propylene Glycol helps the various ingredients used in products to combine, binding them together and keeps these products from freezing at low temperatures or from melting at high ones.
A quick search around the web will bring up lots of websites claiming that Propylene Glycol is a very dangerous ingredient. They claim that it is an industrial antifreeze and that it is used in brake and hydraulic fluids.They also state that Propylene Glycol is very irritating and that, when it comes into contact with the skin, it can cause kidney and liver problems. Not only that, but according to the critics, it can cause cancer too!
The Truth about Propylene Glycol:
As it often happens, the truth has been twisted. Sometimes by people in good faith who didn’t dig into the matter deep enough other times by natural companies that - to sell more of their products - claim all sort of nasty and dangerous stories about any synthetic ingredient. It is true that Propylene Glycol is used as antifreeze, but at concentrations of 100%! And yes, such high concentrations can be very irritating and cause redness and stinging when they come into contact with the skin. Also, there is no scientific proof that Propylene Glycol causes cancer. No study has ever linked this ingredient to cancer and according to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry it isn’t carcinogenic at all.
NB: Research externally sourced from http://blog.myskin.com/insights/propylene-glycol-the-truth-revealed