Parabens are a class of chemicals that, because of antifungal and antibacterial properties, offer the manufacturer a cheap means of preserving an item. This is at the expense of us, the consumer. Parabens mimic estrogen in the body, which is known to play a role in the development of breast cancer. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG - a group that works hard to educate the public on the dangers of many chemicals), parabens can disrupt the hormone (endocrine) system, and were found in the breast cancer tumors of 19 of the 20 women studied! On top of this, parabens may affect the development and growth of babies and children!
Nearly all parabens are man-made and not found in nature (this should tell us something right there). There are studies on both sides of this but I choose the precautionary route and try to avoid these as much as possible. I would rather err on the side of safety when it comes to my body! Again, let me stress the fact that parabens MIMIC ESTROGEN in the body. Not good!!
The Breast Cancer Fund's website states this, "Measurable concentrations of six different parabens have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors (Darbre, 2004). The particular parabens were found in relative concentrations that closely parallel their use in the synthesis of cosmetic products (Rastogi, 1995)." In an attempt to look younger and prettier, us poor women are bombarded with more and more chemicals that have the potential to create havoc in our bodies!
What can you do? Read labels - you'll be surprised by how many products contain parabens (since there are many different parabens, just look for ingredients ending with "paraben"). Thankfully, there are some wonderful manufacturers out there who choose to AVOID junk and instead choose healthier ingredients. Jason Naturals and Burt's Bees are two of my favorites but there are many companies out there that choose to go this route. If there is one product that you want to start out with I would recommend lotion. Our skin is our biggest organ and anything that is put on it is absorbed into our bodies. Lotion would include sunblock lotion as well, especially for children. Jason Naturals has a great sunblock with an SPF of 45 called Jason Sunblock Family which we use and love.
EWG offers a wonderful resource that you can check out (just click on the link below). You can search for your favorite products and see what the "danger" rating is as well as find safer alternatives. And, as always, if you have any questions at all please let me know!