Methylparaben can be found in some plants and fruits such as blueberries. Besides, it is a common ingredient in many cosmetic and pharmaceuticals, which functions as a preservative or an anti-fungal agent. However, there is controversy about its safety.
Uses of Methylparaben
The main use of methylparaben is to inhibit the growth of bacteria, mold and fungus that can grow on food products. It functions as a preservative and is found in jams, syrups, baked goods, seasonings, dairy products and a variety of beverages. Botulism, a well-known cause of food poisoning, is inhibited by methylparaben.
A variety of types of parabens is typically found in cosmetic and body care products, including butylparaben and propylparaben that are used as a preservative. Parabens are widely used in products such as hair products, lotions, shaving products, makeup and toothpaste.
Medications and topical medical preparations are also prone to spoiling and bacterial growth. Methylparaben is an effective additive to prevent contamination and bacterial growth and is also used to prevent fungal growth in antibiotics used for injection purposes.
Dangers of Methylparaben
The Hazardous Substances Data Bank lists methylparaben as a cosmetics preservative that is quickly absorbed. Much controversy exists around its safety.
Contributes to Breast Tumors
Methylparaben has been linked to breast tumors in women. The widespread use of methylparaben in cosmetics, skin creams and deodorants is felt to be a contributing factor in a report from the Journal of Applied Toxicology.
Decreases Male Fertility
The testes are sensitive to hormone concentrations and are adversely affected by methylparaben. A 2009 report in Reproductive Toxicology showed an interaction between parabens and the active cells in the testicles. The overall result can lead to a decrease in sperm production. Methylparaben has an estrogen like effect that is also detrimental to male sexual health.
Triggers Pregnancy Disorder
Parabens can mimic the effects of natural occurring estrogen disrupting normal physiologic effects in women. The Environmental Working Group found in lab studies that parabens disrupt reproductive hormones and negatively affect the endocrine system. Estrogen has widespread affects for the female body. It is responsible for the secondary sex characteristics such as breast development and menstruation. The ability to become pregnant and maintain the pregnancy is highly influenced by hormones and exposure to methylparaben adversely affects this delicate balance.
Leads to Early Puberty
Exposure methylparaben can lead to early puberty in both girls and boys. Any substance that mimics hormones has the potential to negatively disrupt delicate systems within the body. Methylparabens are hormone mimics and negatively impact a variety of systems including the reproductive system. The endocrine system releases carefully balanced amounts of hormones that affect such processes as puberty and pregnancy. Experts have cited an early onset of puberty over the last few decades. In fact, girls as young as eight have developed pubic hair and breast growth. Due to estrogen like effects, boys have also shown breast growth due to estrogen receptors triggered by exposure to methylparabens.
Causes Skin Problem
Some countries have banned the use of methylparaben in cosmetics and perfumes as it has been shown to damage the natural pigment in skin. Clear evidence from a 2006 report in Toxicology showed that skin cells died when exposed to creams containing methylparaben and the UVB rays in sunlight. Furthermore, a large degree of oxidative stress occurred in areas where methylparaben containing creams were used. Oxidative stress is a well-known factor in a number of health care problems including cancer.
Methylparaben is a common preservative in eye drops and a 2009 study in the Journal of Ocular Pharmacology showed that even small amounts cause damage to eye tissue.
Cautions of Methylparaben Use
Manufactures are required to list product ingredients on the label to help consumers make informed decisions. Paraben-free alternatives to your favorite products can be found on the Internet, in natural food stores or health food stores and. Look to avoid propylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben and benzylparaben as they are all part of the paraben family of chemicals.