Parabens, the chemical compounds found in a large variety of care products such as body lotions or shampoo, may have significant impacts on health. New research links parabens to a higher risk of breast cancer.
Included in body lotions, sunscreens, shampoo or other care products, parabens are used as chemical compounds for preserving or preservatives. Their widespread use in such items makes them a common ingredient that impacts our health.
While a number of products have been renouncing the use of parabens (their label usually signals the fact that they are paraben-free), there is still a wide variety used on a daily basis.
New research on the impact of parabens as estrogen mimics with view to the risk of stimulating cancer cell growth underlines a larger issue. Current safety tests may disregard the effect of parabens on human health. Mainly due to the fact that the estrogen mimics are analyzed in isolation.
Ruthann Rudel of the Silent Spring Institute, toxicologist and co-author on report paper declared that:
“Scientists and regulators are using potency estimates from these kind of tests and are assuming they are relevant to what goes on in real life. But if you don’t design the right test, you can be off by a lot”.
The findings of the study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives suggest that as estrogen mimics, these compounds may stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells. They act in a similar manner to estradiol, a hormone that triggers the estrogen receptor.
Previous research has already brought to light the link between other estrogens and estradiol and a higher likelihood of developing breast cancer. In relation to other molecules in the body, parabens may act similarly, causing the growth of cancer cells, as well as reproductive issues.
The new research links parabens to a higher risk of breast cancer. The research team reached this conclusion after studying breast cancer cells. With some of the cells, the research team activated the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). 25 percent of the breast cancer cells produce this receptor abundantly. Due to the release of the HER2, these breast cancer cells grow much faster and spread more rapidly than any other type.
With the help of heregulin, HER2 receptors were activated. Then, parabens were added. They acted as the activators of the estrogen receptors and enhanced the growth the breast cancer cells where the HER2 receptors were also activated. This led to a significant rate of growth and spread.
The research team draws attention over the safety of parabens, even in small doses. At the same time, emphasis must be placed on designing better safety tests that can account for health effects with more accuracy.
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