Some assumes that parabens are harmful towards endocrine system, as they mime hormones behaviour then damaging our body; some absolves them (or some of them).
Let us start from the European Commission position. The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS), whose opinion is considered by the European Commission in order to allow or restrict the use of chemicals in cosmetics and consumer products, effectively considers the parabens as endocrine disruptors, but in a mild way. Their toxicity depends on their molecular structure: the biggest ones seem to be the most repro-toxic and the most powerful as endocrine disruptors; the smallest ones seem to be less toxic.
Actually the European Commission, also influenced by recent decision of the Danish government to restrict parabens use in products aimed for use in babies, in 2014 forbade some parabens (the ones with a big molecule) and restricted some others, considering them less toxic (as propyl- and butyl paraben). The Commission thinks that the smallest ones, i.e. methylparaben and ethylparaben, are safe and can be safely used in products for babies too (with the exception of leave-on products, such as creams and lotions, intended for the “nappy area” of children aged less than 3) because, in its opinion, there is no evidence that such substances really can affect the endocrine system, at the concentrations they are used in products.
A lot of scientists are working to this issue, with the aim to know whether this line of thinking is correct or it needs more caution, forbidding definitely the use of parabens; here are some examples.
According to Pan et al. (Environ Health Perspect. 2016), the estrogen-like action is increased by physiological biochemical mechanisms into the body, so it seems that toxic concentrations are far smaller than scientists thought before. This study points out that effectively propyl- and butylparaben are stronger than methyl- and ethylparaben; however also the latter are strengthened by these mechanisms.
Some scientists focus their attention on a substance that comes from absorption and assimilation of parabens by our body (the metabolite): p-hydroxybenzoic acid. A study made by Pugazhendhi et al. (J. Appl. Toxicol. 2005) shows that this substance is able to act as an endocrine disruptor as well as the parabens, even if it is smaller than the smallest of them.
Moreover, according to Güzel Bayülken et al. (Drug Chem Toxicol. 2017), such metabolite is a mutagen towards human lymphocytes, as it is able to damage their DNA and chromosomes in concerning concentrations and in a few hours exposition.
Barouki (C. R. Biologies, 2017) illustrates that endocrine disruption is a long-term toxicity quite different from other commonly studied toxicities, because it shows some different features; so the scientists must evaluate the continuous exposition, the delayed actions, the low-dosage effects too… Endocrine disruption is quite tricky and needs a more careful approach.
Ultimately, the above-mentioned and other recent scientific studies show that the scientific community is far from being unanimous and convinced of parabens safety.
Bensos does not follow the “trend”: it takes into account such uncertainties about endocrine effects associated with parabens, as well as the mutagenicity data associated with the metabolite; its choice is not to use parabens as preservatives into its products. Bensos strongly believes that efficient products free from long-term toxic substances and from polluting chemicals can be made; when applying selection criteria, we do not listen to unverified news, as well as we do not want to overlook any possible toxicity data whom scientific community is investigating. Bensos is not interested in getting attached to one substance rather than to another: if researchers, working into universities and public agencies, find out new toxicity data for a substance previously considered to be safe, Bensos will modify formulations in order to eliminate it, as it has done in the past.
Bensos was born to formulate and manufacture detergents, body cleansers and creams aimed to take care of people’s health and of the environment.