Methylparaben is an antifungal and preservative that is widely used in cosmetics. Because it is easily absorbed through the skin and is generally considered non-irritating, it is a very popular beauty product ingredient and is used to prevent fungal growth and to generally preserve formulas.
Although it is thought to be non-irritating, the CIR Expert Panel has acknowledged the “paraben paradox,” in which paraben-sensitive patients can tolerate paraben-containing cosmetics applied to normal, unbroken skin but not when applied to eczematous or ulcerated skin (Source).
Although parabens (the group of chemicals in which Methylparaben belongs) are generally considered safe when used in low percentages (.04% – .08%), many studies have found a link between parabens and breast cancer. According to the CIR Expert Panel, however, “the available acute, subchronic, and chronic toxicity tests, using a range of exposure routes, demonstrate a low order of parabens’ toxicity at concentrations that would be used in cosmetics” (Source). After testing different levels of exposure to parabens in women, men, and children, the CIR Expert Panel found that these “determinations are conservative and likely represent an overestimate of the possibility of an adverse effect (e.g., use concentrations may be lower, penetration may be less) and support the safety of cosmetic products in which parabens preservatives are used.”
Ultimately, the cosmetics industry has found the low levels of parabens in cosmetics to be safe and the connection between parabens and breast cancer to be weak. The FDA (which has given Methylparaben its GRAS rating) finds that although parabens can mimic estrogen, the actual effects of this low level of activity on the body do not cause cancer in a higher incidence than naturally occurring estrogen. Nonetheless, many paraben-free products are being created to avoid the possible dangers of ethylparaben and other paraben-based preservatives.
Safety Measures/Side Effects of Methylparaben
However. In a 2004 study published by the Journal of Applied Toxicology, 18 of 20 malignant breast tumors showed high concentrations of parabens, which are known to mimic estrogen in the body and affect the growth of breast tissue. Dr. Darbre, one of the chief scientists on the study, acknowledged that “One would expect tumours to occur evenly, with 20 per cent arising in each of the five areas of the breast … But these results help explain why up to 60 per cent of all breast tumours are found in just one-fifth of the breast – the upper-outer quadrant, nearest the underarm” (Source). Not all deodorants contain parabens; however, many beauty products in addition to deodorant contain parabens, including face cream, body lotions, cleansers and shampoos.
The above information is for general research purposes only and is not a representation or warranty of any kind. This material is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The user of this material is solely responsible for determining fitness for any particular use; requesting and reviewing the applicable Material Safety Data Sheet; and compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. Terms and conditions apply.