• Preservatives: What’s Lurking in Your Products?



    If you are familiar with My Journey you’ll know exactly why this particular post means so much to me. If you’re not, you can click on the link and find out why.

    My interest in the evils of preservatives was really borne out of my personal experience, distaste, and distrust regarding the affects on my skin. My intention initially was to have this be a post mostly about skin irritation and why, if you have sensitive skin or eczema, you should just stop using products with these ingredients altogether. However, while information collecting, I’ve included a lot of additional information on the other issues and concerns with the preservatives that touch our bodies and our lives every single day. So, this post is quite full of information and my apologies if it is a bit choppy. But, there are 2 main things that I hope anyone reading this will take away with them:

    1) Preservatives are among the top skin irritants in our personal care products (PCPs.) Skin irritation, i.e. contact dermatitis, i.e. eczema is rampant in today’s society.  While the triggers are different for everyone, it would do you good to be aware of this information if you or someone you know suffers with eczema because preservatives may play a role in the stubbornness of the irritation, even if major triggers like food allergies have been removed.

    2) There are a boatload of additional reasons to ditch preservatives that are more concerning than eczema- I’d just say that the eczema is an outward manifestation of the shitstorm that is preservatives on our skin.

    Regarding eczema to start: This particular topic really ticks me off and I’ll start out by quoting the beloved WebMD to explain why. Because if WebMD says this, you know that it’s mainstream enough that it certainly isn’t quackery of any kind.

    Just a note regarding this quote: It refers to “cosmetics” but don’t be fooled to assume this applies just to makeup, what we generally refer to as cosmetics. It absolutely applies across the board to any personal care products we use on our skin; shampoos, lotions, soaps, hell, especially if you are a woman who washes a lot of dishes and you have irritation on your hands (hand eczema is even it’s own special thing!)- check out the label on your dish liquid. But wait, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t have an ingredient list! Because it’s not required to and it’s not regulated either (topic for another fun post.) So you’ll undoubtedly have to go on the internet to look for the ingredient information if you are using a common big-name brand.

    All emphasis within quoted text is added for those who wish to do breezy reading.

    Also, in some instances quotes cited in green text will be edited for length, full information is available by clicking on the associated link below the quote. 

    Per the Instructions of WebMD:

    “What to Avoid When You Have Eczema

    2. Preservatives. Preservatives like methylparaben or butylparaben help keep cosmetics and skin care products from going bad or growing bacteria. But they can also lead to inflammation, so avoid them if you have sensitive skin or eczema. Try using products with natural preservatives like neem oil or grapefruit seed extract when possible — they are less irritating.”

    Detecting and Dealing With Eczema- Cosmetics and Eczema: What to Choose [http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/eczema/treatment-11/cosmetics-eczema-makeup]

    Regarding the prevalence of preservative allergies:


    Of 945 patch-tested patients, 68.4% had at least one positive reaction and 47.3% had at least two positive reactions. Also, 49.4% of patients reacted to at least one preservative; 31.2% reacted to at least one fragrance/botanical additive. “

    Results of patch testing to personal care product allergens in a standard series and a supplemental cosmetic series: an analysis of 945 patients from the Mayo Clinic Contact Dermatitis Group, 2000-2007. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20643495]

    Just a little more food for thought:

    Due to the commercial nature of personal care products, nearly everything that you come across on a store shelf will contain some foray of synthetic chemical preservatives. If you think about the journey that most of these products have before they reach your home, you’ll understand why. Production, storage, shipping, store storage, shelf, home. Then consider, especially if you don’t use it all right away, how long it’ll last sitting around at home…  5, 10, 15 years? And it’s still “good as new?” Ick.

    Yeah, so let’s talk about preservatives.

    Preservatives2- RM & RY

    Final note before content:  There are different types of eczema, yes, different triggers, reactions- but they are all forms of dermatitis (atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis), all still under the umbrella of “eczema.” Since WebMD doesn’t specify, I’m not going to spend my time in this post drawing the differences either.

    Table of Contents:

    1. Formaldehyde:

    1A. Carcinogenic:

    The National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health spells out for us pretty clearly where Formaldehyde falls on the risk of cancer:

    “Can formaldehyde cause cancer?

    Although the short-term health effects of formaldehyde exposure are well known, less is known about its potential long-term health effects. In 1980, laboratory studies showed that exposure to formaldehyde could cause nasal cancer in rats. This finding raised the question of whether formaldehyde exposure could also cause cancer in humans. In 1987, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen under conditions of unusually high or prolonged exposure (1). Since that time, some studies of humans have suggested that formaldehyde exposure is associated with certain types of cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies formaldehyde as a human carcinogen (2). In 2011, the National Toxicology Program, an interagency program of the Department of Health and Human Services, named formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen in its 12th Report on Carcinogens (3).”  [Emphasis added.]

    Formaldehyde and Cancer Risk [http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/formaldehyde/formaldehyde-fact-sheet]

    And a direct link to reference #3 as quoted above:

    Substances Listed in the Thirteenth Report on Carcinogens [http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/content/listed_substances_508.pdf]

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    1B. Respiratory Toxicant & Carcinogenic from the CDC:

    Health conditions. Formaldehyde irritates the airways. People with asthma, bronchitis, or other breathing conditions are especially sensitive to formaldehyde. People with other chronic diseases also may be less able to tolerate formaldehyde exposure. Pregnant women and their unborn children may not be at higher risk, but they should be careful about exposure. If anyone in your home has any of these conditions, it is important to reduce their exposure to formaldehyde.”

    Formaldehyde is known to cause cancer. The cancer of greatest concern is cancer of the nose and throat. Scientific research has not yet shown that a certain level of formaldehyde exposure causes cancer. However, the higher the level and the longer the exposure, the greater the chance of getting cancer. Exposure to formaldehyde might increase the chance of getting cancer even at levels too low to cause symptoms.” [Emphasis added.]

    What You Should Know about Formaldehyde [http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/drywall/docs/whatyoushouldknowaboutformaldehyde.pdf]

    ^^ This is actually a very informative document about formaldehyde exposure. I’ve always known that formaldehyde was a big deal, especially in cosmetics, but I had no idea it was used for so many household things!!!

    “It is used to make building materials and household products. Formaldehyde is used to make walls, cabinets, and furniture… Formaldehyde is a common chemical that can be emitted from a number of products in the home. Smoking, pressed wood, and particle board have all been shown to be sources of formaldehyde. Higher formaldehyde levels are usually found in newer homes or homes with new construction. The levels decrease over time. Formaldehyde levels also increase with increases in temperature and humidity.” [Emphasis added.]

    What You Should Know about Formaldehyde [http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/drywall/docs/whatyoushouldknowaboutformaldehyde.pdf]

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    1C. Neurotoxin:

    I’m skipping ahead to neurotoxin so I can be consistent with my placement of Skin Irritant/Allergen last, unfortunately it was a last minute add to the image, so it got put last!

    The interesting thing about it being a last minute add is that you’ll hear frequent talk of formaldehyde being a neurotoxin, but I didn’t add it initially because none of the big site sources listed above have any mention of it. It even got me wondering about the legitimacy of the claims about it being a neurotoxin (especially when it comes to vaccines.) But I decided it couldn’t go ignored- so here is what I found.

    “Formaldehyde is a flammable, colourless gas with pungent odour and readily polymerized at ambient temperature. It is one of the major pollutants in indoor air. It is found in the environment as a result of natural processes and from man-made sources and it is widely used in industries and medical settings. Several symptoms might be manifested related to formaldehyde –exposure among which lethargy, decrease in motor activity, and loss of appetite is common. Formaldehyde resulted in minor headache to irreversible neurotoxicity and brain cancer. The neurotoxic effects produced by formaldehyde exposure are dependent on the concentration of formaldehyde and duration of exposure which is more pronounced in concentrated and increased duration of exposure. Acute exposure to low concentrations it leads to stimulation while in higher concentrations it acts as central nervous system depression. The formaldehyde exposure in adult and postnatal period results in an increase oxidant substances though it causes a decrease in the antioxidant enzymatic activity in the rat frontal cortex and hippocampus. It was indicated that formaldehyde induces several characteristics of neurotoxicity. Anatomists, histologists, pathologists, medical students, embalmers and members of industries utilizing formaldehyde is more exposed to formaldehyde gas. Therefore, it is recommended to use personal protective equipment, maintaining high room air exhaust rates and concentrations of formaldehyde in work places should be monitored by using standard measuring machines.” [Emphasis added.]

    Formaldehyde Neurotoxicity

    Neurotoxicity is any effects on the structure or function of the central and/or peripheral nervous system related to exposure of a chemical substance. Recently, neurotoxicity has become an important endpoint in hazard identification and assessing the risks of chemicals. The nervous system is of particular interest because mature neurons are generally incapable of regeneration (Takeuchi, 2004).

    The disorders of the nervous system due to chronic exposure to industrial chemicals are usually very hard to recover, and sometimes tend to become gradually more serious even after removal from the exposure. In addition, the normal cascade of brain development during fetal and newborn life may be exquisitely sensitive to disruption by chemicals, resulting in long lasting and profound nervous system dysfunction (Takeuchi, 2004).

    Formaldehyde can cause nervous system damage by its known ability to react with and form cross linking with proteins, DNA and unsaturated fatty acids (Thrasher et al., 1990).

    These mechanisms could cause damage to virtually any cell in the body, since all cells contain these (proteins, DNA and unsaturated fatty acids) substances. FA can react with the nerve proteins (neuroamines) and nerve transmitters (For example catecholamine) which could impair normal nervous system function and cause endocrine disruption (Thrasher et al., 1990).” [Emphasis added.]

    There is more that I could share, but I’ll stop there in the interest of not making this post forever long. The last comment that I will make is to consider the fact that formaldehyde is dangerous, period. If you are not aware of it yet, please check out this link as well and do a quick search for “formaldehyde” with your ctrl+F function. As always, you are welcome to draw your own conclusions and do further research. [Food for Thought.]

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    1D. Skin Irritant/Allergen:

    Allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) is a type IV delayed hypersensitivity reaction. During the last decade, there has been a heightened awareness of this disease in the pediatric population. The gold standard for diagnosis is patch testing. The prevalence of positive patch tests in referred children with suspected ACD ranges from 27 to 95.6 %. The most common allergens in children in North America are nickel, neomycin, cobalt, fragrance, Myroxylon pereirae, gold, formaldehyde, lanolin/wool alcohols, thimerosal, and potassium dichromate. The relationship between ACD and atopic dermatitis (AD) is complicated with conflicting reports of prevalence in the literature; however, in a patient with dermatitis not responding to traditional therapies, or with new areas of involvement, ACD should be considered as part of the work-up.” [Emphasis added.]

    Allergic contact dermatitis in children: review of the past decade. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24504525]

    Formaldehyde is the American Contact Dermatitis Society Contact Allergen of the Year for 2015. The exposure is widespread, and contact allergy might be difficult to suspect in the individual dermatitis patient. The relevance of contact allergy to formaldehyde might also be difficult to evaluate. Recently, however, several studies have been performed aimed at enhancing the patch test technique and evaluating the clinical relevance of contact allergy to formaldehyde. The patch test concentration of formaldehyde has been recommended by the European Environmental Contact Dermatitis Research Group to be 2.0%, that is, the dose of 0.60 mg/cm (wt/vol) instead of 1.0%, which is the concentration previously used for the baseline series in most countries. Without causing any more irritant reactions, the patch test concentration of 2.0% detects twice as many contact allergies and enables the diagnosis of formaldehyde-allergic patients who otherwise would have been missed. The studies that underpin the decision were performed in Europe and partly in the United States. The Finn Chamber patch test system was used. The allergen dose per area was kept uniform with a micropipette. This report describes the background for routinely using formaldehyde 2.0% instead of 1.0% and for using a micropipette when applying the test solution.” [Emphasis added.]

    Formaldehyde. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25581665]

    *** Take Note: This suggestion is from January 2015. Most Abstracts referenced here, if they indicate declining sensitization, this is a likely reason why.

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    2. & 3. DMDM Hydantoin & Imidazolidinyl & Diazolidinyl Urea (Also Quaternium-15):

    2&3A. Formaldehyde Releaser:

    What is a Formaldehyde Releaser? Per EWG:

    “But the U.S. government and World Health Organization have classified formaldehyde as carcinogenic when its fumes are inhaled.  It is also a potent skin sensitizer and allergen.  Cosmetics companies generally don’t dump pure formaldehyde into their concoctions. Instead, they take a roundabout route by using what they call “preservative systems” that employ any one of several chemicals, called “formaldehyde releasers.”  These are chemicals that, when added to water, will decompose slowly over time to form molecules of formaldehyde.  Some manufacturers favor this method because it acts like a time-release capsule, maintaining a fairly constant level of preservative in the mix.  The reactions that generate formaldehyde occur silently as the products sit on shelves in stores or bathroom cabinets.” [Emphasis added.]

    Exposing the Cosmetics Cover-Up: Is Cancer-Causing Formaldehyde in your Cosmetics? [http://www.ewg.org/research/exposing-cosmetics-cover/formaldehyde-releasers]

    It’s obvious by the nature of these ingredients that their whole purpose is to release formaldehyde over time to preserve the product. Therefore, any of the concerns regarding formaldehyde listed above also easily apply to these ingredients.

    Relationship between Formaldehyde sensitivity and Formaldehyde-Releaser sensitivity:

    “Preservatives are widely used to prevent microbial growth both for skin care products and in the industry. Many of them have allergic potential. Allergic contact dermatitis caused by preservatives can often be chronic, probably because it is difficult to suspect contact allergy to these chemicals based on the patient’s history only. Formaldehyde is a common cause of contact allergy and has been included in the baseline series since the 1930s 1 . The prevalence of formaldehyde allergy has been reported to be 2-3% in European countries and 8-9% in the US 2 . The use of free formaldehydeas a preservative has decreased and formaldehyde-releasing agents are used instead. Individuals who are allergic to formaldehyde are recommended not only to avoid products preserved with formaldehyde but also products containing formaldehyde-releasers.” [Emphasis added.]

    Skin care products containing low concentrations of formaldehyde detected by the chromotropic acid method can not be safely used in formaldehyde-allergic patients. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26480304]


    To investigate the prevalence of concomitant contact allergy to formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasers in dermatitis patients, and to determine the sources of formaldehyde exposure based on personal and occupational products obtained from dermatitis patients.


    Patch test data from referred dermatitis patients with a positive patch test reaction to formaldehyde or formaldehyde-releasers were analysed. For the period 2000-2008, the formaldehyde content in products obtained from formaldehyde-allergic patients was analysed by chromotropic acid test and/or acetylacetone test.


    Patients allergic to a formaldehydereleaser often had simultaneous contact allergy to formaldehyde. Other combinations were also prevalent. In patients who reacted to more than two formaldehyde-releasers, nearly all reacted simultaneously to formaldehyde. Seventy-five percent of the formaldehyde-allergic patients used a product that contained formaldehyde. The main source of formaldehyde exposure was cosmetics (78%).


    Concomitant contact allergy to formaldehyde and formaldehydereleaser remains common. Furthermore, contact allergy to a formaldehydereleaser was nearly always concomitant with another formaldehydereleaserFormaldehyde was commonly found in personal products used by formaldehyde-allergic patients.” [Emphasis added.]

    Formaldehyde exposure and patterns of concomitant contact allergy to formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasers. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20597931]

    Additionally from EWG, some food for thought regarding exposure even in small amounts:

    “To be sure, the amount of formaldehyde in a cosmetic product at any given time is tiny.  The cancer risks presented by a cosmetic could be considered slight — but that product is not a person’s only source of exposure. People are also exposed to formaldehyde by pressed-wood products, cigarette smoke, vehicle exhaust and unvented fuel-burning appliances such as gas stoves, wood-burning stoves and kerosene heaters according to the National Cancer Institute and the Environmental Protection Agency. Personal care products that contain formaldehyde make an unnecessary contribution to an individual’s exposure to this chemical – particularly since research shows that cosmetic products can release small amounts of formaldehyde into the air shortly after they are applied. Formaldehyde is most dangerous when inhaled.” [Emphasis added.]

    Exposing the Cosmetics Cover-Up: Is Cancer-Causing Formaldehyde in your Cosmetics? [http://www.ewg.org/research/exposing-cosmetics-cover/formaldehyde-releasers]

    And the reference link study to formaldehyde in the air from personal care products:

    We measured consumer exposure to formaldehyde (FA) from personal care products (PCP) containing FA-releasing preservatives. Six study subjects applied facial moisturiser, foundation, shower gel, shampoo, deodorant, hair conditioner, hair styling gel or body lotion at the 90th percentile amount of EU PCP consumer use. FA air concentrations were measured in the empty room, in the presence of study subjects prior to PCP use, and for one hour (breathing zone, area monitoring) after PCP use. The mean FA air concentration in the empty bathroom was 1.32 ± 0.67 μg/m³, in the presence of subjects it was 2.33 ± 0.86 μg/m³). Except for body lotion and hair conditioner (6.2 ± 0.1.9 or 4.5 ± 0.1.5 μg/m³, respectively), mean 1-h FA air concentrations after PCP use were similar to background. Peak FA air concentrations, ranging from baseline values (2.2 μg/m³; shower gel) to 11.5 μg/m³ (body lotion), occurred during 0-5 to 5-10 min after PCP use. Despite of exaggerated exposure conditions, FA air levels were a fraction of those considered to be safe (120 μg/m³), occurring in indoor air (22-124 μg/m³) or expired human breath (1.4-87 μg/m³). Overall, our data yielded evidence that inhalation of FA from the use of PCP containing FA-releasers poses no risk to human health.” [Emphasis added.]

    Consumer inhalation exposure to formaldehyde from the use of personal care products/cosmetics. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22406137]

    I’m willing to accept that minimal exposure from PCPs pose little risk when it comes to the inhalation factor,  however, the above referenced study verifies that it does affect the air quality, and, not to mention, how often does one use only one product even in a single day that contains these preservatives?

    Cumulative Effect- EB. RM & RY


    So, No Risk They Say? But are we even really sure of what we are being exposed to?

    “Patients can react to low concentrations of allergen. This makes it very important for all of the information concerning ingredients in the product to be available to the end user, including information regarding the preservatives used in the production of the raw material. In this report, we present an example of hidden exposure to formaldehyde in an alco-swab, where the reaction was very obvious; however, in other cases it may be more difficult to suspect that the product has caused a reaction. In a study of 100 moisturizers, 17% contained preservatives that were not declared on the label (8), and in another study 33% of 67 moisturizers were not labeled regarding their contents of formaldehyde/formaldehyde-releasers (9).” [Emphasis added.]

    Hidden exposure to formaldehyde in a swab caused allergic contact dermatitis. [http://www.researchgate.net/publication/260838051_Hidden_exposure_to_formaldehyde_in_a_swab_caused_allergic_contact_dermatitis]

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    4. Parabens:

    4A. & 4B. Possible Carcinogen & Endocrine Disruptor:

    Indicating need for further research:

    Parabens are used as preservatives in many thousands of cosmetic, food and pharmaceutical products to which the human population is exposed. Although recent reports of the oestrogenic properties of parabens have challenged current concepts of their toxicity in these consumer products, the question remains as to whether any of the parabens can accumulate intact in the body from the long-term, low-dose levels to which humans are exposed. Initial studies reported here show that parabens can be extracted from human breast tissue and detected by thin-layer chromatography. More detailed studies enabled identification and measurement of mean concentrations of individual parabens in samples of 20 human breast tumours by high-pressure liquid chromatography followed by tandem mass spectrometry. The mean concentration of parabens in these 20 human breast tumours was found to be 20.6 +/- 4.2 ng x g(-1) tissue. Comparison of individual parabens showed that methylparaben was present at the highest level (with a mean value of 12.8 +/- 2.2 ng x g(-1) tissue) and represents 62% of the total paraben recovered in the extractions. These studies demonstrate that parabens can be found intact in the human breast and this should open the way technically for more detailed information to be obtained on body burdens of parabens and in particular whether body burdens are different in cancer from those in normal tissues.” [Emphasis added.]

    Concentrations of parabens in human breast tumours. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14745841]

    Why it matters:

    “This issue of Journal of Applied Toxicology publishes the paper Concentrations of Parabens in Human Breast Tumours by Darbre et al. (2004), which reports that esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid (parabens) can be detected in samples of tissue from human breast tumours. Breast tumour samples were supplied from 20 patients, in collaboration with the Edinburgh Breast Unit Research Group, and analysed by high-pressure liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry. The parabens are used as antimicrobial preservatives in underarm deodorants and antiperspirants and in a wide range of other consumer products. The parabens also have inherent oestrogenic and other hormone related activity (increased progesterone receptor gene expression). As oestrogen is a major aetiological factor in the growth and development of the majority of human breast cancers, it has been previously suggested by Darbre that parabens and other chemicals in underarm cosmetics may contribute to the rising incidence of breast cancer. The significance of the finding of parabens in tumour samples is discussed here in terms of 1). Darbre et al’s study design, 2). what can be inferred from this type of data (and what can not, such as the cause of these tumours), 3). the toxicology of these compounds and 4). the limitations of the existing toxicology database and the need to consider data that is appropriate to human exposures.” [Emphasis added.]

    Significance of the detection of esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid (parabens) in human breast tumours.[http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14745840]

    “A framework for understanding the complexity of cancer development was established by Hanahan and Weinberg in their definition of the hallmarks of cancer. In this review, we consider the evidence that parabens can enable development in human breast epithelial cells of four of six of the basic hallmarks, one of two of the emerging hallmarks and one of two of the enabling characteristics… As an emerging hallmark methylparaben has been shown in human breast epithelial cells to increase mTOR, a key regulator of energy metabolism. As an enabling characteristic parabens can cause DNA damage at high concentrations in the short term but more work is needed to investigate long-term, low-dose mixtures. The ability of parabens to enable multiple cancer hallmarks in human breast epithelial cells provides grounds for regulatory review of the implications of the presence of parabens in human breast tissue.” [Emphasis added.]

    Parabens can enable hallmarks and characteristics of cancer in human breast epithelial cells: a review of the literature with reference to new exposure data and regulatory status. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25047802]

    For Reference Study see more info below:


    Our study demonstrates that (i) ErbB/HER ligands, including BTC and EREG, are expressed in most breast cancers; and (ii) TGFalpha, HB-EGF and NRG2 high expressions are related to the biological aggressiveness of the tumours.” [Emphasis added.]

    ErbB/HER ligands in human breast cancer, and relationships with their receptors, the bio-pathological features and prognosis. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17962208]

    Regarding above reference:

    Background: Xenoestrogens are synthetic compounds that mimic endogenous estrogens by binding to and activating estrogen receptors. Exposure to estrogens and some xenoestrogens has been associated with cell proliferation and increased risk of breast cancer. Despite evidence of estrogenicity, parabens are among the most widely used xenoestrogens in cosmetics and personal care products, and generally considered safe. However, previous cell based studies with parabens do not take into account the signaling cross-talk between estrogen receptor (ERα) and the human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER) family. 

    Objectives: We investigated the hypothesis that the potency of parabens can be increased with HER ligands, such as heregulin (HRG). 

    Methods: The effects of HER ligands on paraben activation of c-Myc expression and cell proliferation were determined by real-time PCR, western blots, flow cytometry and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays in ERα- and HER2-positive human BT-474 breast cancer cells. 

    Results: Butylparaben (BP) and HRG produced a synergistic increase in c-Myc mRNA and protein levels in BT-474 cells. Estrogen receptor antagonists blocked the synergistic increase in c-Myc protein levels. The combination of BP and HRG also stimulated proliferation of BT-474 cells compared to BP alone. HRG decreased the dose required for BP-mediated stimulation of c-Myc mRNA expression and cell proliferation. HRG caused the phosphorylation of serine 167 in ERα. BP and HRG produced a synergistic increase in ERα recruitment to the c-Myc gene. 

    Conclusion: Our studies demonstrate that HER ligands enhance the potency of BP to stimulate oncogene expression and breast cancer cell proliferation in vitro via ERα, suggesting that parabens might be active at exposure levels not previously considered toxicologically relevant from studies testing their effects in isolation.” [Emphasis added.]

    Parabens and Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Ligands Cross-Talk in Breast Cancer Cells [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26502914] [Full text: http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/wp-content/uploads/advpub/2015/10/ehp.1409200.acco.pdf]

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    4C. Skin Irritant/Allergen:


    This study documents the North American Contact Dermatitis Group (NACDG) patch-testing results from January 1, 2011, to December 31, 2012.


    Four thousand two hundred thirty-eight patients were tested; of these, 2705 patients (63.8%) had at least 1 positive reaction, and 2029 (48.0%) were ultimately determined to have a primary diagnosis of ACD. Four hundred eight patients (9.6%) had occupationally related skin disease. There were 7532 positive allergic reactions. As compared with previous reporting periods (2009-2010 and 2000-2010), positive reaction rates statistically increased for 6 allergens: methylchloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone (5.0%; risk ratios [RRs]: 2.01 [1.60-2.52], 1.87 [1.61-2.18]), lanolin alcohol (4.6%; RRs 1.83 [1.45-2.30], 2.10 [1.79-2.47]), cinnamic aldehyde (3.9%; 1.69 [1.32-2.15], 1.53 [1.28-1.82]), glutaral (1.5%; 1.67 [1.13-2.48], 1.31 [1.00-1.71]), paraben mix (1.4%; 1.77 [1.16-2.69], 1.44 [1.09-1.92]), and fragrance mix I (12.1%; RRs 1.42 [1.25-1.61], 1.24 [1.14-1.36]). Compared with the previous decade, positivity rates for all formaldehyde-releasing preservatives significantly decreased (formaldehyde 6.6%; RR, 0.82 [0.73, 0.93]; quaternium-15 6.4% RR 0.75 [0.66, 0.85]; diazolidinyl urea 2.1%; RR, 0.67 [0.54, 0.84]; imidazolidinyl urea 1.6%, 0.60 [0.47, 0.77]; bronopol 1.6%; RR, 0.60 [0.46, 0.77]; DMDM hydantoin 1.6%; RR, 0.59 [0.54, 0.84]). Approximately a quarter of patients had at least 1 relevant allergic reaction to a non-NACDG allergen. In addition, approximately one-fourth to one-third of reactions detected by NACDG allergens would have been hypothetically missed by T.R.U.E. TEST (SmartPractice Denmark, Hillerød, Denmark).


    These data document the beginning of the epidemic of sensitivity to methylisothiazolinones in North America, which has been well documented in Europe. Patch testing with allergens beyond a standard screening tray is necessary for complete evaluation of occupational and nonoccupational ACD.” [Emphasis added.]

    North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25581671]

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    5. Phenoxyethanol:

    Perhaps what is most obnoxious about Phenoxyethanol and Methylisothiazolinone in particular is that usage of these two preservatives has become more prominent in recent years since Formaldehyde (and releasers) and Parabens have come under heavy fire. But, as usual, they certainly do not come without their own issues.

    5A. Reproductive Toxicant:

    A continuous breeding reproduction study design was utilized to examine the reproductive toxicity of ethylene glycol monobutyl ether (EGBE) and ethylene glycol monophenyl ether (EGPE). Swiss CD-1 mice were administered EGBE in drinking water (0, 0.5, 1.0, and 2.0%, i.e., 0.7, 1.3, and 2.1 g/kg body wt/day) and EGPE was administered via the feed (0, 0.25, 1.25, and 2.5%, i.e., 0, 0.4, 2.0, and 4 g/kg body wt/day). Both male and female mice were dosed for 7 days prior to and during a 98-day cohabitation period. EGBE was toxic at the high (2%) and mid dose (1%) to adult F0 female mice: 13 out of 22 females at the high dose and 6 out of 20 at the mid dose died during the cohabitation period. Both the high- and mid-dose animals produced fewer litters/pair, fewer pups/litter, with decreased pup weight. These effects occurred in the presence of decreased body weight, decreased water consumption, and increased kidney weight. A crossover mating trial indicated that the reproductive effects could be attributed primarily to an effect on the female. This was substantiated at necropsy where testes and epididymis weights were normal as were sperm number and motility. Fertility of the offspring of the 0.5% group was normal in the presence of increased liver weights. With respect to EGPE, there was no change in the ability to produce five litters during the continuous breeding period. There was, however, a significant but small (10-15%) decrease in the number of pups/litter and in pup weight in the high-dose group. A crossover mating trial suggested a female component of the reproductive toxicity of EGPE. While fertility was only minimally compromised, severe neonatal toxicity was observed. By Day 21 there were only 8 out of 40 litters in the mid- and high-dose groups which had at least one male and female/litter. Second generation reproductive performance of the mid-dose group (1.25%) was unaffected except for a small decrease in live pup weight. In summary the reproductive toxicity of EGBE and EGPE was only evident in the female and occurred at doses which elicited general toxicity. EGBE was particularly toxic to adult female mice while EGPE was particularly toxic to immature mice of both sexes.” [Emphasis added.]

    Reference: EGPE- ethylene glycol monophenyl ether (Phenoxyethanol)

    Assessment of ethylene glycol monobutyl and monophenyl ether reproductive toxicity using a continuous breeding protocol in Swiss CD-1 mice [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2086313]


    We detected glycol ether metabolites in 6% (for ethoxyacetic acid) to 93% (for phenoxyacetic and butoxyacetic acids) of urine samples. Phenoxyacetic acid was the only metabolite with a statistically significant association with longer time to pregnancy [fecundability OR = 0.82; 95% CI: 0.63, 1.06 for the second and third quartile combined; fecundability OR = 0.70; 95% CI: 0.52, 0.95 for a fourth-quartile (≥ 1.38 mg/L) vs. first-quartile concentration (< 0.14 mg/L)]. This association remained stable after multiple sensitivity analyses.


    Phenoxyacetic acid, which was present in most of the urine samples tested in our study, was associated with increased time to pregnancy. This metabolite and its main parent compound, 2-phenoxyethanol, are plausible causes of decreased fecundability, but they may also be surrogates for potential coexposures to compounds frequently present in cosmetics.

    Among all GEs measured in urine samples collected during pregnancy, we found evidence of longer TTP in association with PhAA. PhAA, which was widely detected in our study population, and its main precursor (EGPhE) are biologically plausible causes of decreased fecundability, but this biomarker may also be a surrogate for co-exposures frequently present in cosmetics. Finally, given the inherent limitations of retrospective TTP studies, further prospective studies on this topic are warranted.” [Emphasis added.]

    Reference Guide: GE (Glycol ether), TTP (Time to pregnancy), PhAA (Phenoxyacetic acid), EGPhE (2-phenoxyethanol) 

    Urinary Glycol Ether Metabolites in Women and Time to Pregnancy: The PELAGIE Cohort [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3801453/]

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    5B. Skin Irritant/Allergen:


    The aims of this study were to report the NACDG patch-testing results from January 1, 2007, to December 31, 2008, and to compare results to pooled test data from the previous 2 and 10 years to analyze trends in allergen sensitivity.


    Standardized patch testing with 65 allergens was used at 13 centers in North America. χ analysis was used for comparisons.


    A total of 5085 patients were tested; 11.8% (598) had an occupationally related skin condition, and 65.3% (3319) had at least 1 allergic patch test reaction, which is identical to the NACDG data from 2005 to 2006. The top 15 most frequently positive allergens were nickel sulfate (19.5%), Myroxylon pereirae (11.0%), neomycin (10.1%), fragrance mix I (9.4%), quaternium-15 (8.6%), cobalt chloride (8.4%), bacitracin (7.9%), formaldehyde (7.7%), methyldibromoglutaronitrile/phenoxyethanol (5.5%), p-phenylenediamine (5.3%), propolis (4.9%), carba mix (4.5%), potassium dichromate (4.1%), fragrance mix II (3.6%), and methylchloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone (3.6%). There were significant increases in positivity rates to nickel, methylchloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone, and benzophenone-3. During the same period of study, there were significant decreases in positivity rates to neomycin, fragrance mix I, formaldehyde, thiuram mix, cinnamic aldehyde, propylene glycol, epoxy resin, diazolidinyl urea, amidoamine, ethylenediamine, benzocaine, p-tert-butylphenol formaldehyde resin, dimethylol dimethyl hydantoin, cocamidopropyl betaine, glutaraldehyde, mercaptobenzothiazole, tosylamide formaldehyde resin, budesonide, disperse blue 106, mercapto mix, and chloroxylenol. Twenty-four percent (1221) had a relevant positive reaction to a non-NACDG supplementary allergen; and 180 of these reactions were occupationally relevant.


    Periodic analysis, surveillance, and publication of multicenter study data sets document trends in allergen reactivity incidence assessed in the patch test clinic setting and provide information on new allergens of relevance.” [Emphasis added.]

    North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch test results for 2007-2008. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23340394]

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    6. Methylisothiazolinone:

    6A. Skin Irritant/Allergen:

    This great preservative also won the prestigious American Contact Dermatitis Society “Allergen of the Year” award in 2013!

    “The recent increase in prevalence of contact dermatitis to MIs in soaps, cleansing products and cosmetics made this class of substances the Allergen of the Year for 2013.”

    Contact allergy caused by methylisothiazolinone: the Belgian-French experience. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26412037]

    ^^ “Facial and/or hand dermatitis… cosmetics… household detergents…”

    Methylisothiazolinone (MI) used alone is a new preservative causing a high prevalence of contact allergy. The eliciting threshold of MI is unknown. The combination of MI and phenoxyethanol enhances the antimicrobial efficacy of MI.


    The eliciting doses of MI contact allergy in a patch test and a repeated open application test (ROAT) were investigated. In the patch test, it was determined whether phenoxyethanol influenced the reactivity to MI.


    A maximum of 100 ppm MI is permitted in cosmetic products. Eighteen per cent of MI-allergic patients reacted to a concentration 20 times lower in a ROAT. The amounts used in cosmetics should be reduced, and the development of MI contact allergy should be monitored closely.” [Emphasis added.]

    Methylisothiazolinone contact allergy and dose-response relationships. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21504436]

    ^ Excuse me, but that is ridiculous!! Patients reacted to TWENTY Times LOWER than the permitted amount? No wonder sensitization to this chemical is out of control!

    There are seriously a million abstracts listed on the PubMed website that I could list here, but if you’re interested in reading more here’s the link: [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=methylisothiazolinone+contact+allergy]

    Back to TOC


    So really, this is what it has come to? We literally trade one problem for another, one evil for another. Ok, yes, of course cancer and endocrine disruption/fertility issues are more serious than skin problems, but they are just as prevalent- that’s for sure! And becoming more-so at that. It’s insane, really. Not including the fact that eczema is also a $1 BILLION Dollar industry. How is that Ok??

    “Atopic dermatitis is a common disease of increasing prevalence. Affected individuals must cope with a significant psychosocial burden, in addition to dealing with the medical aspects of the disease. Furthermore, because this is primarily a disease of childhood, family members, especially parents, are also affected by the condition. Individuals and family members are burdened with time-consuming treatment regimens for the disease, as well as dietary and household changes. The financial impact of atopic dermatitis on families can also be great. Moreover, the cost to society is significant, with estimates ranging from less than 100 dollars to more than 2000 dollars per patient per year. It is estimated that the direct cost of atopic dermatitis in the United States alone is almost 1 billion dollars per year. Reducing the onus of this disease must take into account the full breadth of its burden. Targeting parents and caregivers with education and psychosocial support can decrease family and personal burden, which in turn may decrease the cost of treating the condition because of better medical, psychosocial, and family outcomes.”
    The burden of atopic dermatitis: impact on the patient, family, and society. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15916563]
    The thing that is insane to me about this particular problem is that people do spend so much time, money, and energy trying to solve their eczema problem- doctors are often clueless, and quite frankly we have to be our OWN advocates to find the trigger. Eczema and skin issues are not simply going to go away from using a frightening topical steroid. The root cause of the irritation must be found and eliminated. Even if the initial trigger is dietary, you could have also already been sensitized to these kinds of chemical ingredients.
    For me, this is one of the single most important reasons to buy truly natural products, especially items that you are putting on your body every single day. I can’t deny that Radiantly You is the answer for me through and through. There are few other companies on the market that really meet the standard for someone with these sensitivities. Most of them are actually direct sales companies, which makes sense because theoretically (in the case of Radiantly You) the products are fresh and come right to you from production, eliminating the need for chemical preservatives. The other alternative is to make it yourself at home. If you like doing those kinds of things, that’s awesome! I suggest you check out Wellness Mama‘s blog for lots of recipes. For those who prefer to let someone else perfect the work, please consider checking out Radiantly You.


    ResearchMama Cp)Who is “Research Mama?” I’m a mom who discovered a passion for the blessings of nature. After experiencing the benefit of natural remedies over prescriptions, I became very curious about the claims of the natural community and the verification behind it.

    This is my blog to help share the information that I have found that solidifies the claims that you see time and time again. I hope you will receive the information with an open mind and note that I’m sharing it for the sole purpose of validating that it is there. Anyone reading it can make their personal choice to utilize it or not. That’s it!

    Feel free to let me know if you have any topics for consideration!


2 Responsesso far.

  1. […] I continue, I have to stop for a moment because this particular issue is rather important to me- preservatives. Parabens have been used as preservatives for a long time until they started coming under fire for […]

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