I am sure you have seen it walking through the cosmetic section at your local super market, drug store or, cosmetic store, “Paraben Free.” Did it leave you wondering if it’s just the latest marketing ploy? Did you say to yourself, “I don’t want Parabens? Really? Why not? Nobody told me that I should want them or not want them.” 

You might even think that it’s just the latest fad like the “fat free” movement (AKA chemical sh** storm movement) that will end up taking years to recover from the ramifications. You might have even resolved to laugh and say, “You’re not getting one past me! I’m buying the paraben laden product instead!” 


Let’s break it down because this is one that’s moving in the right direction. Parabens are found in cosmetic type products, especially products that contain a lot of water, some foods and pharmaceuticals for preservation. They help prevent the growth of bacteria, yeasts and mold. In other words, parabens help those products sit on the shelf. Sounds simple and not so bad, right? Not so fast! (FDA, 2016). 

Parabens have been linked to being endocrine disruptors. This means that they impair or harbor the normal functioning of your endocrine system; the system responsible for hormones. Although if you look at each individual product, the toxicity levels are low however, if you combine all of the products a normal consumer would utilize on a regular basis that parabens are found, that’s a different story (Larsson, et.al., 2014). 

Why are endocrine disruptors bad? Parabens have been found to mimic the behaviors of estrogens. Research tells us that these behaviors of synthetic estrogens have an increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive issues for the individual. If we specifically look at breast cancer, research has shown that when receptors for breast cancer cells are activated by naturally found growth factor, heregulin, in breast tissue and then exposed to parabens directly, the parabens significantly increase the binding of those receptors, cause the breast cancer cells to proliferate (grow) much faster and they are found to be much more aggressive (Sanders, 2015). 


If we take a different approach and review research of breast cancer patients, it confirms these findings. The research has shown for years that breast tumor biopsy samples contain significant amounts of 6 different types of parabens. Further investigation shows that along with those findings, there was also a positive correlation with consumer paraben containing product usage. This means that the higher concentrations of parabens found in the biopsy samples were from patients who utilized more paraben containing consumer products. There was also further positive correlation in females that were tested versus males. The reasoning behind this is that females tend to utilize more cosmetic products regularly than that of males (Breast Cancer Fund, 2016).

Now that you have gained some knowledge, start looking at the products you utilize on a daily basis and start replacing them with paraben free versions. When you look at the ingredients listed on the packaging, the common parabens you will see will be listed as either methylparaben, ethlyparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, or butylparaben. As you can see, they all end with “paraben” making this task very easy. 

I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed or anxious about this task so, I challenge you to look in your cabinets at the following types of products and start replacing them:

  1. Facial Moisturizers
  2. Anti-aging creams
  3. Eye & Face Make-up
  4. Fragrance Products
  5. Shaving products
  6. Shampoo and conditioner
  7. Soap/Body Wash
  8. Nail polish  


Let’s all work on being paraben free!


As always, the information provided is by no means meant to cure, diagnose or dissuade you to seek information from your primary care physician or healthcare provider. Always check with your primary care physician or healthcare provider before changing or adding to your normal health routine. Remember, anything related to your health and body is up for discussion; ask questions, make suggestions and ALWAYS have a conversation.  



Sandi Lanham, B.S.P.H

Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine Student

COO of Kentucky Life Realty

Partner of KASA Properties


Want to research some of the science for yourself (which I ALWAYS encourage….knowledge is power as the old adage says)? Here are a few resources/references to check out:


Breast Cancer Fund (2016). Parabens. Breast Cancer Fund: Prevention Starts Here. Retrieved from http://www.breastcancerfund.org/clear-science/radiation-chemicals-and-breast-cancer/parabens.html

FDA (2016). Parabens in Cosmetics. US Food & Drug Administration. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductsIngredients/Ingredients/ucm128042.htm

Larsson, K, et. al. (2014). Exposure determinants of phthalates, parabens, bisphenol A and triclosan in Swedish mothers and their children. US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4207945/

Sanders, R (2015). Lotion ingredient paraben may be more potent carcinogen than thought. UC Berkeley. Retrieved from http://news.berkeley.edu/2015/10/27/lotion-ingredient-paraben-may-be-more-potent-carcinogen-than-thought/

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