The warning has not yet been issued, but is in its infancy, that chemicals in personal care products may cause breast cancer, or at least prompt it to grow more aggressively.
- Researchers investigated parabens, a commonly known preservative found in cosmetics and personal-care products
- Its purpose is to increase shelf-life, and prevent the appearance of fungus
- When breast cancer receptor HER2 was exposed to heregulin and parabens, it grew much faster
- The study is still early, and more research is needed
Researchers from the University of California Berkeley, along with the Silent Spring institute, have investigated the effects of parabens on women’s health. Parabens are commonly found preservatives used in numerous cosmetics and personal-care products, such as shampoos, body lotions, and sunscreens.
The compounds are frequently used for the purpose of prolonging shelf-life, and to help avoid the growth of harmful microorganisms, such as fungus. Their purpose is to secure a further expiration date, and to make sure that nothing hazardous will grow upon the product in humid environments. Like the bathroom, for example.
However, new research has found that parabens might be causing damage on the side. The team of researchers concluded that they are mimicking estrogen release, thus increasing the risk for breast cancer. They analyzed two types of breast cancer cells receptors (estrogen receptors) against human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER2).
Studies have shown that around 25% of breast cancers have an increased number of HER2, which prompts to a more aggressive growth of the tumor. The team of researchers activated the receptor through heregulin, a naturally produced growth factor, and the exposed it to parabens.
It caused the cancer cells to grow rapidly, and in concentrations 100 times lower than those not subjected to heregulin. This implied that parabens may be more hazardous than believed in even small quantities. According to co-author of the study, Chris Vulpe, this may be the same for other estrogen-mimicking substances.
However, lead investigator, Dale Leitman, also assures that it’s unknown yet if it would have the same effects in real-life. The tests were conducted in a simulated environment, which may not necessarily be the precise case that they have the same effect on the human body. It’s a very early research, still in its infancy.
Parabens showed exception and terrifying effects when placed up against heregulin. But in combination with other agents that regulate cell growth, it might not show the same capabilities, according to Leitman. Further research is required before a better conclusion will be drawn.
The study has nonetheless emphasized the possible risk, and the potential for certain personal-care products to be compromising women’s health for the purpose of shelf-life.
Image source: drfranklipman.com