Lotion ingredient paraben may be more potent carcinogen than thought

Lotion ingredient paraben may be more potent carcinogen than thought
A controversial group of chemicals commonly found in lotions and other personal care products may be more dangerous at low doses than previously thought, according to a new study.
Parabens, which are common ingredients in personal care products, may interact with growth factors in the body to increase the risk of breast cancer. iStock photo
The chemicals, called parabens, are preservatives widely used in everything from shampoos and cosmetics to body lotions and sunscreens. The chemicals have generated increasing health concerns, however, because they mimic estrogens, which have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive problems.
“Although parabens are known to mimic the growth effects of estrogens on breast cancer cells, some consider their effect too weak to cause harm,” said lead investigator Dale Leitman, a gynecologist and molecular biologist at UC Berkeley and an adjunct associate professor of nutritional sciences and toxicology. “But this might not be true when parabens are combined with other agents that regulate cell growth.”
Existing chemical safety tests, which measure the effects of chemicals on human cells, look only at parabens in isolation, he said. They fail to take into account that parabens could interact with other types of signaling molecules in the cells to increase breast cancer risk.

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