Parabene - wie gefährlich sind sie wirklich ?

Parabens preserve cosmetics. But they also have the reputation of being hormonally active and even causing cancer. What is the truth of this criticism?
Actually, they should be good for us - creams, masks, shampoo & Co. But time and again, confusing news stories emerge that insinuate that cosmetic products contain substances that are "harmful to health. Parabens in particular come in for criticism again and again: they are said to be able to influence the hormone system and thus even have a carcinogenic effect. What is the truth of this criticism?

What are parabens?
Parabens have been keeping cream jars free of fungi and bacteria since the 1940s - even if most women do not reach into them with a spatula, but with their fingers. But they are also found in toothpaste, deodorant or shampoo, and even in food. Chemically, a paraben is a bond of para-hydroxybenzoic acid (PHB ester). This preservative is even found in nature, for example in carrots or blueberries. For the beauty industry, however, parabens are produced artificially.

Parabens - the study:
Criticism of these preservatives began with a British study in 2004, in which the acid-like substances were found in tissue samples from breast cancer patients. It was concluded that parabens could possibly cause certain breast tumors to grow and thus trigger breast cancer. They act in the body much like hormones, more specifically the female hormone estrogen.

Are parabens harmful?
There are different types of parabens. Some have stronger hormonal effects - those used in cosmetics, hardly at all. "Such hormone-active effects from cosmetics containing parabens have not been observed in humans and are not to be expected," confirms Prof. Dr. Axel Schnuch, a dermatologist at the University of Göttingen and head of the Information Network of Dermatological Clinics (IVDK). It has also not been proven at all that parabens can penetrate the skin barrier. The substances that the British researchers found in breast tissue could just as well have been ingested with food, because the preservatives are also used for food.

As preservatives, parabens are particularly well researched. Only last year, the level of concentrations in cosmetic products was re-evaluated. The studies of the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) prove: Within these legally prescribed concentration limits, parabens are harmless to health and also the better choice. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has also stated, "The BfR does not advocate a general replacement of parabens because these substances are well tolerated by the skin and, in contrast to other preservatives, carry a low allergy risk." The difficulty, after all, is to cover the entire spectrum of bacteria, yeasts, and molds while remaining skin-compatible. Birgit Huber of the Industrieverband Körperpflege- und Waschmittel (IKW) (Industrial Association for Personal Care and Detergents) says, "To achieve this without parabens, several substances would usually have to be combined." So more substances and thus a higher risk of contact allergies. When using creams with parabens, allergic reactions occur only extremely rarely.

Cosmetics without parabens
If you want to avoid parabens in your cosmetics, it is recommended to read the INCI list carefully. If this is too much Latin for you: With natural cosmetics, you are usually always on the safe side. All care products that bear the seal of Ecocert, Nature, BDHI, or Demeter are basically paraben-free.

Parabens in the INCI list:
Meta gen
Oxybenzoic acid/oxybenzone
Hydroxybenzoic acid/hydroxybenzoate


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