Parabens, the widely used preservative that can be found in all sorts of topically applied body and hair products, are mostly known for their toxicity to the endocrine or hormonal system. This is because they are a well known estrogen-mimicking agent which acts much list estrogen does in the body.
Paraben exposed skin doesn’t defend against UVB damage nearly as well
There have been studies linking paraben exposure on the skin to greater damage from UVB rays, which are the sun’s most damaging form of UV radiation. It’s actually the type of spectrum of sunlight that causes DNA damage and can lead to early photo-aging and skin damage. This includes wrinkles, fine lines and premature aging caused by excessive free radical damage.
They found that skin that had a lot of paraben exposure had much greater DNA damage than skin that was not exposed to the methylparaben version of the chemical. This can mean that parabens, especially when used on a daily basis, may actually accelerate the sun’s damage to your skin.
This appears to not only be true of the visible or cosmetic damage done to your skin, but also may have cancerous implications as well. This is because the exposed skin showed significantly higher DNA damage as well. When DNA is damaged, it means that it is much more likely to mutate into cancerous cells and multiply as cancer cells do.
The primary concern is still increased estrogenic activity
Synthetic estrogens like this however, do much more damage because they not only tip the scale in an unfavorable direction when it comes to the body’s natural hormone balance, but they are also destructive because they are synthetic chemicals that can accumulate in the tissues.
Unless a woman or a man uses natural products on their face, skin and body (and hair), they absorb a very large amount of parabens every day. This is actually worse than if the parabens were ingested or eaten, because parabens stay intact when they are absorbed. At least if they were digested the digestive acids would have somewhat neutralized them and passed them out of the body quicker.
Several studies have shown that there are very high levels of this chemical in the urine of women. Why? Women tend to use more beauty and skin care products than men do, and because so many of these products still contain the chemical. Parabens have even been found, along with other harmful chemicals in the tumors of breast cancer patients.
It’s safe to say that parabens are a chemical best avoided if at all possible. There is another reason that these preservatives, which come in many forms – all ending in the word “paraben” with various prefixes attached, are to be avoided.