The Health Controversies of Parabens

Mark G. Kirchhof, MD, PhD; Gillian C. de Gannes, MD, MSc, FRCPC


Skin Therapy Letter. 2013;18(2) 

In This Article


The expectation of long shelf lives and microorganism-free consumer products mandates the use of preservatives. Ideally, preservatives should be active at low concentrations against a wide variety of microorganisms without interfering with other ingredients in the product, while also remaining nontoxic to humans and available at low cost to manufacturers. Parabens have been used for over 80 years and, despite reports of adverse reactions, they have proven to be amongst the safest and most well tolerated preservatives. Although the possible association of parabens with decreased sperm quality and breast cancer does warrant continued examination, the current data does not support drastic regulations or personal restrictions to exposure. Other recently regulated chemicals, such as phthalates and bisphenol A, may serve as archetypes for continued vigilance and investigation.[50,51]