Parabens: Is It Safe for Me And My Family

General Health

Parabens: Is It Safe for Me And My Family

Parabens are usually found in common household items like food, medicines, and more.


The rise of the internet age has made it easier for consumers to easily access vast amounts of information within the comforts of their own homes. Unfortunately, the digital era also brought forth the proliferation of fake news on social media which can cause unnecessary panic to the public. In this article we tackle the issue on the use of parabens in certain medications, specifically methylparaben and propylparaben, so we may educate the general public with facts that are based on scientific research and other relevant studies.

What are parabens?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), parabens are “man-made chemicals often used in small amounts as preservatives in pharmaceuticals, food, beverages, and cosmetics.” Parabens are used as antimicrobial preservatives and can be safely absorbed by humans when they eat or touch certain products. This preservative can be found in food and common household items like toiletries, skincare products, and certain drugs.  

Are parabens safe?

There are two commonly used parabens: methylparaben and propylparaben—both of which are considered generally regarded as safe (GRAS) by different regulatory agencies around the world including the US, EU, and Canada. The FDA permits the combination of several parabens to food to ensure product freshness, prevent spoilage, and to prolong shelf life. In addition, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)permits the use of methyl, ethyl, and propyl parabens as food additives in processed food like pâté, dried meat, confectionery (except chocolates), and liquid dietary food supplements. The use of these parabens help ensure product freshness and quality. Research conducted by the CDC showed that finding measurable amounts of parabens from urine samples of about 2,548 participants (aged six years old and above) did not imply that it caused adverse effects. Moreover, recent studies established the ADI (acceptable daily intake) of methyl and ethyl parabens to 0-10 mg/kg body weight per day. Other medical studies concluded that the controlled use of methylparaben in oral formulations of up to 0.02% of the product did not pose as a health risk for humans both adult and children alike. The European Medicines Agency also established that propylparaben had no toxicological effects when administered with concentrations between 0.02% to 0.06% in pharmaceutical formulations. It is important to note that parabens are easily excreted by the human body.  

Which parabens are banned by the FDA?

Due to the lack of sufficient evidence on the effects of certain parabens, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Philippines has banned the use of selected parabens in cosmetic products due to their potential health risks for public consumption:
         
  1. Isopropylparaben (C10H12O3)
  2.      
  3. Isobutylparaben (C11H14O3)
  4.      
  5. Benzylparaben (C14H12O3)
  6.      
  7. Phenylparaben (C12H10O3)
  8.      
  9. Pentylparaben (C12H16O3)
All products which contained the mentioned parabens were phased out from the Philippine market since January 2016. The general public is advised to read the full ingredient list and product information leaflets (if available) before ingesting/applying new products.  

General disclaimer

Always consult your doctor before drinking any kind of medication, including vitamins. Keep in mind that your physician is in the best position to prescribe the right kind of treatment for your condition. Immediately stop using a product if you experience negative side effects.  

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