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Cosmetic/Food Additive Chemicals in Breast Cancer Tumors
chemicals found in breast tumours
NewScientist.com news service; 12:24 12 January 04
Preservative chemicals found in samples of breast tumours probably
came from underarm deodorants, UK scientists have claimed.
Their analysis of 20 breast tumours found high concentrations of
para-hydroxybenzoic acids (parabens) in 18 samples. Parabens can
mimic the hormone estrogen, which is known to play a role in the
development of breast cancers. The preservatives are used in many
cosmetics and some foods to increase their shelf-life.
"From this research it is not possible to say whether parabens
actually caused these tumours, but they may certainly be associated
with the overall rise in breast cancer cases," says Philip Harvey, an
editor of the Journal of Applied Toxicology, which published the
"Given that breast cancer is the largest killer of women and a very
high percentage of young women use underarm deodorants, I think we
should be carrying out properly funded, further investigations into
parabens and where they are found in the body," Harvey told New
The new research was led by molecular biologist Philippa Darbre, at
the University of Reading. She says that the ester-bearing form of
parabens found in the tumours indicates it came from something
applied to the skin, such as an underarm deodorant, cream or body
spray. When parabens are eaten, they are metabolised and lose the
ester group, making them less strongly estrogen-mimicking.
"One would expect tumours to occur evenly, with 20 per cent arising
in each of the five areas of the breast," Darbre toldNew Scientist.
"But these results help explain why up to 60 per cent of all breast
tumours are found in just one-fifth of the breast - the upper-outer
quadrant, nearest the underarm."
However, Chris Flower, director general of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and
Perfumery Association, challenged the study's findings. "There are
almost no deodorants and body sprays that contain parabens," he says.
"Although they are in most other creams and cosmetics, the safety
margin is huge and they would not have any effect on enhancing growth
of new tumours."
Darbre replies that deodorants and antiperspirants have only stopped
containing parabens in the last few months and that the tumours she
studied occurred prior to this.
A small survey by New Scientist of three British high street shops
and one supermarket found deodorants in each that contained parabens,
although most of these products did not. However, many other products
used under the arm commonly contained parabens, such as body sprays,
hair removal creams and shaving gels. Body lotions, face creams,
cleansers and shampoos also frequently contained parabens.
Previously published studies have shown that parabens are able to be
absorbed through the skin and to bind to the body's
estrogen-receptors, where they can encourage breast cancer cell
But Flower maintains that the amount of parabens absorbed by the skin
is very low and the parabens are "metabolised by the skin cells to
produce products that have no estrogenic activity".
Darbre's research did not look at the concentrations of parabens in
other areas of the breast or body tissues and Harvey cautions that
the significance of the chemicals in tumour tissue should not be
Darbre says she has not used cosmetic products, including underarm
deodorants, for eight years. She recommends that other women do the
same "until their safety can be established".
Journal reference: Journal of Applied Toxicology (vol 24, p5)
STUDY LOCATED AT:
''Ethyl Paraben is...used in antiseptic creams & ointments ...It is also
used as pharyngeal antiseptic, in combination with other parabens. Dose
--1.5mg in troche. ''
''Parabens/...are often incorporated in ..creams, lotions, & ointments
that may be used in region of eyes, & occasionally cause redness &
swelling of eyelids from allergic contact dermatitis.'' /PARABENS/
P-HYDROXYBENZOIC ACID ETHYL ESTER
4-HYDROXYBENZOIC ACID ETHYL ESTER
More data in file of ETHYL 4-HYDROXYBENZOATE at TOXNET's HSDB
http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov>. Search words: para-hydroxybenzoic acids
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