AuNaturale, a gorgeous CurlyNikki reader, graciously shared this pertinent information with me, and now I’m passing it on to you! I honestly believe that we’re all becoming scientists in our own right- in the end, we’re going to know the good, the bad and the ugly about every single chemical compound found on the back of our fav products! Seriously. Education leads to the best decisions. Check it out:
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Hi Nikki,

I’ve read your recent posts on your success with Lustrasilk’s Shea & Mango Cholesterol and the debate regarding concerns of the parabens included in the product’s ingredients. I, as I’m sure most other people who read your blog, have read about the concerns regarding parabens in cosmetics products on other blogs and internet articles. These sources usually reference the infamous study indicating that parabens were found in breast cancer tissues. While I have read that some in the scientific community criticize this study, I really paid the criticism no mind, thinking that it more than likely came from scientists who work for the cosmetics companies. Breast cancer runs in my family, so, for me, just hearing about the results of this study was enough for me to get rid of all hair and skin care products, and deodorants, I owned that contained parabens. Personally, I just don’t want to take the risk. However, I must admit that while I had read many articles that merely referenced the study on parabens, I had never read, or bothered to look for, the study itself. After reading JC’s comments on parabens in one your previous posts, I decided to do more research on the subject so that I could make a more informed decision. I wanted to find the actual study. I searched for quite some time, but I could not find find it. However, I did find a very informative article (http://www.health-report.co.uk/parabens.htm) that provided the name of the doctor who conducted the study and various quotes from her regarding her results. The study was conducted in 2004 by Dr. Philippa Darbre, who is a senior lecturer in Oncology at the University of Reading in the UK. The findings of her study suggested that the traces of paraben chemicals she found in 20 breast cancer tumors seeped into the human tissue after being applied directly to the skin. In my opinion, such a finding definitely implicates skin care products and deodorants. But my efforts didn’t stop there. I emailed Dr. Darbre directly and asked her opinion on the use of parabens in hair products. I specifically referenced the Lustrasilk Shea & Mango Cholesterol since it contains methylparaben and propylparaben. I asked her if she thought that the continued use of hair products containing parabens could also lead to the development of cancer cells. Lastly, since quite some time has passed since her initial study, I asked her if other studies have been conducted since then. Much to my surprise, Dr. Darbre responded. Unfortunately, she couldn’t really answer the question on the use of parabens in hair products, but her response was quite detailed as to her area of study with respect to the use of parabens in cosmetics products, and the current state of the research in this area. Lastly, Dr. Darbre was kind enough to attach 17 peer-reviewed articles detailing the research and studies conducted on parabens in cosmetics products so that I could make the decision for myself. Here is Dr. Darbre’s response below and I will attach the articles to this email:

Thank you for your e-mail. I appreciate that research is very slow and your questions are almost impossible to answer at the current time. Most of my thoughts are focused around chemical components of cosmetic products which are applied and left on the skin in the area of the human breast in the context of a rising incidence of breast cancer and with an incidence of breast cancer disproportionately located in the upper outer quadrant of the breast (the region closest to the underarm – we have 53% of breast cancers starting there in the UK now). At a much more general level, whether it is even possible to consider the effect of a single chemical in a rinse-off hairproduct, I really do not know. My overall thoughts are that it is likely to be much more mutlifactorial than that – and I am sorry that I cannot answer you in any way other than to say I do not know and the true scientific position is that we do not know one way or the other.

I think that the best response I can give is to send you peer-reviewed publications and reviews that you can read for yourself and so that you can draw your own conclusions from what has been done so far. It is true that the research so far is very small, that our 2004 study was small and pioneering. However, without any real possibility of research funding, there will continue only to be small studies done by those, like myself, who try to find a few answers without much resource. I appreciate that the 2004 paper has been heavily criticised – it was never fit for such international scrutiny. It was published as a small, pioneering study to make a point (that parabens can be detected in human tissues – up to that point I was told by all that parabens would never be detected in human tissues). Without resource, there comes a time for any scientist where either one simply forgets the data or one decides to submit the data for peer-review in the hope that if it is accepted by peers as publishable that other scientists would read it and take the work on. As you can see from our 2008 review, there are others who have taken our 2004 work on and have found in the USA parabens in human urine (again vindicating that parabens can enter the human body) and in Denmark that parabens applied in topical cream to the dorsal skin of 26 young healthy men can be detected within hours in blood and then urine (again vindicating that parabens can enter the human body from topical application in a cream cosmetic). Whether there is any harm in our bodies having parabens in the tissues remains unknown at the current time – if, or course parabens could not be found in human tissues then there would be no question. But because they have been found there there remains a question which needs research effort putting into it, and, from my own perspective, I think needs research into not just the effects of a single type of chemical but the many chemicals which are applied in the many cosmetic products used in the modern world. One fear I have is that if we go hounding one chemical alone, that the bigger picture will be lost in the process.

I hope that this is helpful and that you are not overwhelmed by the detail. I do try to respond to everyone who writes to me.

All good wishes,
Philippa Darbre

I haven’t gone through all of these articles as of yet, but I certainly will. I definitely won’t be using any deodorants or lotions containing parabens, but after I read the articles, I will revisit my decision on whether I will use hair products containing parabens. I sincerely hope this information will be useful to others who visit your site!
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For those interested in reading the full articles, shoot me an email at [email protected], and I’ll forward them to you.

To see my previous post on Parabens (among other chemicals), click here.
Later Gators,
Nik