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Paraben facts and fallacies


Four sources that discuss paraben safety.

Here are four sources that discuss paraben safety:

P&G says this on its Parabens Safety in Cosmetics page: “The Cosmetic Ingredient Review, published in the International Journal of Toxicology in 2008, consolidated over 65 submitted safety studies and more than 200 published studies and previous reviews, including extensive discussion of paraben reproductive safety. This review noted that a woman's daily cosmetic regimen would result in paraben exposures 840 times less than an amount that caused no adverse reproductive effects in the most conclusive safety studies. This report further confirmed the safe use of parabens in cosmetics and noted that any parabens absorbed from use would be metabolized, easily eliminated from the body and would not accumulate.”


GRAPHIC HANDOUT FOR PATIENTS: An explanation of parabens


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, parabens in makeup, moisturizers and haircare products are absorbed through the skin. As for safety, the CDC says, “Human health effects from environmental exposure to low levels of parabens are unknown. In 2006, the industry-led Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), in a partnership with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), determined that there was no need to change CIR's original conclusion from 1984 that parabens are safe for use in cosmetics.” 

The FDA’s take, in part: “The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) reviewed the safety of methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben in 1984 and concluded they were safe for use in cosmetic products at levels up to 25 percent. Typically parabens are used at levels ranging from 0.01 to 0.3 percent.”

The Environmental Working Group posts in an article about parabens:

“The Environmental Protection Agency links methyl parabens (one form of parabens), in particular, to metabolic, developmental, hormonal, and neurological disorders, as well as various cancers.”

The article on www.ewg.org goes on: “In October 2007, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded there was no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of cosmetics containing parabens. You should know, however, that the FDA has little or no authority to require companies to test personal products for safety. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), more than 500 products sold in the U.S. contain ingredients banned in cosmetics in Japan, Canada, or Europe. It's not difficult to reduce your exposure to parabens. Eliminate (or streamline) as many personal care products as you can, especially those left on the skin around the breast.”


More articles in our package on OTC product ingredients:

Inactive but controversial OTC product ingredients

The evidence around nanotechnology

Resources for physicians and patients

GRAPHIC: An explanation of parabens for patients

Talking about preservatives with patients

Prohibited ingredients at a glance

What consumers are reading

Johnson & Johnson's commitment to consumers

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