The problems with parabens: A local doctor's warning

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Concerns about disease are making us increasingly aware of what we eat, so it's no surprise we're becoming equally aware of what we put on our skin.

Parabens are the bad boys of personal care products. Should we make an effort to boycott them?

Skin cancer is a concern for Juliann Sanchez of Arcadia.

When she shops for sunscreen there's only one thing she looks for.

"Ones that have the highest SPF, I guess like 50," said Sanchez.

That's important, but her dermatologist Dr. Shirley Chi suggests Sanchez also check labels for parabens.
"Parabens are everywhere. There's a study that shows that 90 percent of grocery products in general have parabens in them," Chi said.

Parabens are a group of synthetic preservatives present in most personal care products such as cosmetics, lotions, toothpaste and shampoos.

"It actually can be absorbed into the body even if you apply it topically and then it becomes an endocrine disruptor," Chi said. "Parabens can act like estrogen by binding to estrogen receptors on your cells and promoting growth of those cells."

Some researchers believe long-term absorption can disrupt fertility and lead to the development of estrogen-related cancers.

Even though the use of parabens are not banned in the U.S., consumer pressure is motivating companies to create paraben-free products.
Some makers are replacing the chemicals with less dangerous preservatives or eliminating it all together.

Products made in small batches may also be a paraben-free option.

"For instance, like an artisan product or something you might buy at a farmers market would be good because it's not going to have any preservatives," Chi said," A bar soap would be better than a liquid soap because bar soaps are dryer."

So should you throw out your make up and moisturizers? Since 1984, the FDA has concluded that levels of parabens contained in personal care products are safe for use.

Sanchez always reads food labels, but from now on she said, "I think I'm going to pay attention to what I'm putting on my skin and not just what I'm putting in my body. "
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