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Parabens: the effects on our body and on that of our children


Parabens are synthetic preservatives largely used in cosmetics.

They have an antibacterial and antifungal action that slows down the decomposition of the product due to the action of fungi and microbes that proliferate thanks to the favourable environment consisting of water, proteins and sugar –typical elements found in lotions and food that can carry diseases, including serious ones.

Therefore parabens ensure a long shelf life for lotions, shampoo, soap, deodorants and sun cream, retaining their features and extending their shelf life.

Used for years in cosmetics, these substances are now in the limelight due to recent studies that have highlighted a number of side effects. According to experts, parabens interfere with our hormonal system and especially with the activity of estrogens, female hormones, causing infertility and issues during pregnancy.

Precisely the latter was examined by in-depth research, which studied the effects of preservatives on the fetus carried by pregnant women. A US pilot study compared the levels of parabens most commonly found in the blood of some pregnant women with the ones of their babies after delivery. Not only it discovered that these preservatives can pass through the placenta’s barrier, it showed that in as much as more than 50% of cases babies had a far higher percentage of parabens in their body compared to their mothers. This is attributed to the inability of the kidneys of fetuses and newborns of getting rid of this kind of toxin, as they have not fully developed yet.

The debate on the effects of preservatives is still unresolved and underway. However, limiting our exposure to parabens is easier than it seems – you just need to take a few simple measures.

First of all it’s important to carefully read the labels on cosmetics, especially lotions and perfumes and choose paraben-free products. A good alternative can be natural preservatives like grapefruit seed oil or vitamin E. If instead you tend to use a specific product very often, you can consider using paraben-free products, as long as you use them fairly quickly.