Lotions… Can Be Harmful Potions!
Here are some interesting statistics:
* Thirty percent of all cancers in women are due to breast cancer.
* One in eight (12%) of women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime.
* Next to skin cancer, breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in women.
* Next to lung cancer, breast cancer carries the highest mortality.
There are definite genetic factors that influence a woman’s potential for developing the disease. However, environmental risk factors may also be crucial in determining the level of risk for development of breast cancer.
The role of taking additional estrogen in the development, growth, and progression of breast cancers has been addressed in many studies. However, many women are unaware that pollutant chemicals in the environment entering the breast through the skin, orally, and inhalation can also increase estrogenic activity thereby increasing the probability of developing breast cancer. Breast tissue, in particular, is comprised of fat, and many of these chemicals have an affinity for this “lipophilic tissue.”
Recent articles have shown breast cancer to be associated with chemicals that have estrogenic activity, like parabens.
Pregnancy presents an added challenge, because externally introduced estrogenic compounds add to the risk already imposed by the high estrogen levels manufactured by the placenta. Many of the most popular stretch mark creams currently on the market today use parabens as a preservative. Read the labels, this is important to you!
Parabens are chemicals used as antimicrobial preservatives in cosmetic products, food products and pharmaceuticals. Chemically they are alkyl esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid. Recent studies have shown that parabens have estrogenic activity themselves. In addition, they can prevent the breakdown of estrogen in the body allowing levels in the body to remain higher than normal.
It has been found that low level absorption from personal care products applied to the breast region over a long period of time, can contribute to increased tissue levels and blood levels of parabens through skin absorption. In addition, absorption can occur through chemical entry by nicks in the skin from shaving. These exact same esters have been found in breast cancer tissue biopsied from patients.
The presence of parabens in products are widespread. Because of the recent discovery of parabens in human blood tissue, milk, urine, and now breast tissue, new controls have been established in Europe.
In the European union, parabens can have a maximum concentration of each type of paraben (methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben or benzylparaben) of .4% in cosmetic products, with a total paraben concentration limited to 0.8%. Recent reviews have recommended further reductions. Parabens have also been found in food products and, most recently, there has been recommendation to withdraw all parabens due to reproductive and endocrine toxicity.
The FDA does not regulate parabens in the cosmetic products in the United States. However, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) does review ingredients for safety and has limited the use of parabens in cosmetics at levels up to 25%. Most products have in the range of .01 to .3 %. There are no studies assessing the risk parabens pose to the fetus through transfer from the mother.
Breast cancer can be found in any quadrant of the breast. However, in the majority of cases, tumor is located in the upper outer quadrants of each breast. If environmental chemicals were contributing to the development of breast cancer, one should see a higher incidence of paraben accumulation in the upper outer portion of the breast compared to other regions of the breast.
A study of breast cancer patients, by Barr, was reported in the Journal of Applied Toxicology in January 2012. In 99% of the patients, traces of at least 1 paraben were found and 60% had traces of 5 different parabens in their breast tissue. The majority of the parabens found, appeared to be from a dermal source, since the chemical structure was intact. This is very significant as parabens absorbed through other routes are often metabolized into other derivatives. There were higher levels of parabens found in the axilla area compared to the mid or medial aspects of the breast, which also implicated a local absorption. It is presumed that chemicals absorbed from skin in any part of the body travels through the circulation or lymphatic systems and accumulates in this region. It has also been postulated that dermal application of personal care products directly to the underarm and adjacent upper breast region might also result in long term low dose absorption and local accumulation in the breast region. Regardless of the mechanism, there is a probability of finding higher levels of some parabens, especially n-propylparaben in the axilla areas compared to other parts of the breast in breast cancer patients.
Just because a chemical is found in a particular region in higher concentration does not necessarily indicate or prove cause and effect. Breast cancers are multifactorial in origin and it is doubtful that any one chemical would be the predominant cause. However, as parabens have estrogenic qualities, and estrogen has unquestionably been associated with risk of breast cancer, further study may demonstrate that parabens are one or perhaps a predominant component in the pool of substances that generate breast cancer.
Pthalates are another another chemical found in cosmetics, shampoos, fragrances, nail polishes, food, nutritional supplements, drinks, plastic products, building materials and household dust. They are generally not bound to the products in which they are found and are easily released from items such as rubber gloves and plastic wrappings used for food storage. In pregnancy, women from the Netherlands were found to have of pthalates of the variety that is found mostly in cosmetics and other personal care products in the urine.
•Infertility including low sperm counts and poor sperm motility
•Asthma, allergies, eczema, rhinitis
•Low birth weights in infants
•Reduced ano-genital distances in the offspring.
•Premature sexual development( especially breast development) Hypospadias in the male offspring.
•Behavioral and mental changes in children—more aggression, depression
Dietary and lifestyle changes can decrease the exposure to pthalates and parabens and proper avoidance may lessen the risk of developing diseases with which they have been associated.
More research is needed to examine the association between parabens and breast cancer. It is known that parabens accumulate in breast tissue and it is yet to be definitively ascertained as to whether parabens present an added risk factor to women. It is possible that the increase in the environmental exposure to estrogenic compounds through cosmetic products accumulating in the breast over a lifetime has adverse effects.
Women should be vigilant in reading ingredient lists on the cosmetics they commonly use and avoidance of preservatives such as parabens and pthalates is highly recommended. Sound advice, especially for pregnant women, is to avoid all cosmetic products with parabens and pthalates that are left on the skin, especially around the breast area. This includes some of the most popular stretch mark creams and nipples gels that are in use.
All Beaute de Maman skin care products, including the stretch mark cream and nipple gel for nursing mothers are paraben-free and phthalate-free. The same applies to all of our bottles, tubes, and other packaging. Our position and philosophy to protect expectant and nursing mothers is to totally avoid the risks presented by parabens and phalates. These substances are not used in any Beaute de Maman products.