We represent people who have suffered injuries due to concentrations of paraben in cosmetics and personal care products
People who have been negatively affected by parabens
Parabens are a family of chemicals commonly used as preservatives in cosmetics and personal care products. These include makeup, moisturizers, hair care products, toothpaste, and shaving products.
Recently, the chemical formulas for these products have grown more complex. As a result, the need for preservatives has grown to prevent microorganisms, such as mold, from growing on the products.
However, high concentrations of parabens have been shown to cause cancer in animal tests. Concerns about their safety in consumer goods have been growing since a 2004 study published by British researcher Philippa Darbre. The study found parabens present in 19 out of 20 samples of breast cancer tissue.
Since then, paraben-free products have become more widely available. Few of those products, however, have been marketed to Black women. Today, most personal care products specifically marketed to Black women use parabens as preservatives.
In 2022, a study presented at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting (ENDO 2022) showed that parabens increase the risk of breast cancer in Black women at a higher rate than in women of European descent.
Until then, the studies of parabens’ effects have used European breast cancer cell lines. This is the first study to use a West African cell line.
These are shocking findings. Breast cancer affects one in eight women in the United States at some point in their lives. Black women under 40 are at a higher risk of getting breast cancer than any other racial or ethnic group.
Now it’s clear that cosmetics and personal care product manufacturers have targeted the marketing of paraben-containing to Black women. And that this demographic group is especially likely to develop breast cancer as a result.
What are the negative health effects of parabens?
Parabens that are ingested or absorbed through the skin can cause a process called endocrine disruption.
Endocrine disruption can occur in various ways.
- Some chemicals mimic a natural hormone. This causes the body to over-respond to a stimulus or respond at inappropriate times.
- Others block the effects of a hormone from certain receptors. This causes the endocrine system to become ineffective.
- Still others cause the body to overproduce or underproduce a chemical. This alters the body’s natural processes.
In the case of parabens, the absorbed chemicals imitate estrogen, the female sex hormone. Disrupting the levels of estrogen in the body contributes to the development of tumors. It can also accelerate their growth.
In addition to the potential cancer risk, parabens have been linked to an increased risk of reproductive problems. They can also trigger irritation and allergic reactions in the skin. These reactions can be especially strong in those with pre-existing conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema, or contact dermatitis.
Because parabens are absorbed rapidly through the skin, these risks can be significant for consumers. They’re also widely used. In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) detected parabens in nearly all of 100 urine samples tested.
What you can do?
For Black women especially, products containing parabens should not be used. Unfortunately, the best way to protect against the harmful effects of parabens is to read every product label.
That’s because the FDA currently doesn’t regulate the use of parabens. They’re treated like any other ingredient. They must be included on labels, but there are no limits on how or in what quantities they can be used.
The most common parabens on the market today are methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben. If these appear on a product label, it’s best to avoid the product.
Remember, though, that parabens aren’t the only harmful product used in cosmetics and personal care products. Just because a personal care product markets itself as “paraben free,” that doesn’t mean it carries no risk.
Plant-based, “natural” chemicals can also act as endocrine disruptors. They also may have other harmful effects. As consumer awareness has grown, many consumer packaged goods companies have been accused of “greenwashing,” or claiming that products are natural when they really aren’t.
As a result, it’s a good idea to educate yourself on all the ingredients in the products you use to make yourself aware of the risks.
Share this information
Please share information about the recent study presented to the Endocrine Society with women of color. This study makes the risk to Black women clear. It also raises questions about risks that may exist for women of other races. Since only European cell lines had been studied previously, higher risk may also exist for other cell lines.
Will there be a paraben lawsuits?
We expect lawsuits to be filed against companies that knew of the cancer risks associated with parabens and failed to market safer, alternative products to Black women. As the effects of parabens become more widely known, we also expect additional causes for litigation will arise.
If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer and have used paraben-containing personal care products marketed to the Black community, you may be entitled to compensation. If you’d like more information and to benefit from a free, no-risk consultation, please fill out the form below.