Parabens Are Worse Than Previously Thought

A study from the National Food Institute at the Technical University of Denmark discovered that butylparaben, commonly used in cosmetics and skincare products to stop bacterial growth, has more adverse effects on the reproductive system than previously believed. Researchers observed endocrine disrupting effects on the development of the reproductive system in rats that were exposed to butylparaben prenatally. They observed reduced sperm quality as well as changes in the prostate, testicles, ovaries, and breast development. "Overall, our results suggest that butylparaben has more negative effects on reproductive health than previously thought," says Julie Boberg, senior researcher from the National Food Institute.

In male rats, researchers observed changes in the prostate as well as the testicle’s ability to produce hormones. Sperm count was significantly reduced in all doses of the substance male rats were exposed to. In female rats, they observed a decrease in ovary weight and an increase in mammary gland outgrowth. The study shows, however, that some effects were only observed at high doses of the substance. It is also important to note that humans are not exposed to paraben doses as high as the rats were in the study. "We need more knowledge about what it means for humans to be exposed to parabens from skin lotions and cosmetics for example,” says Boberg. “It is especially important to take account of cocktail effects because people are exposed to many types of endocrine disruptors at the same time over the course of a normal day.”—Isabela Palmieri