Is That Muffin Giving You Cancer? What Are Parabens Anyway?

Parabens are broad spectrum chemical preservatives used in some foods and about 80% of all cosmetics. They help to prevent products from growing fungus or going rancid and have been used since the 50’s. Scientists continue to use them today because of their efficacy and affordability.

The problem with these chemicals is that while there is not a proven link between parabens and cancer, there is troubling evidence. In 2004 multiple breast cancer tumors were found to have parabens in them strongly pointing the finger at a paraben-cancer link. In addition to the cancer connection, there is also evidence that parabens may disrupt hormonal activity.

A study conducted in 2002 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Public Health confirmed that proply paraben lowered sperm count in rats by altering normal hormone levels. More disturbing is the fact that these rats were given less than the amount considered safe by the FDA meaning that we are consuming higher amounts of parabens in food products and cosmetics than these rats were given.

The FDA still allows for parabens in foods in spite of the mounting evidence of them disrupting hormones and possibly causing cancer. There are movements trying to disallow parabens in our foods and skin care products including petitions being launched by the EWG.

According to the Environmental Working Group, propyl paraben is found in pastries such as Cafe Valley mini muffins, Sara Lee cinnamon rolls and Weight Watchers cakes to name a few. Pancake syrup was found to have the highest concentrations of parabens of all foods. Unfortunatley, studies show that toddlers tend to get the most amount of parabens in their diets followed by children and then adults eating the least.  This is mainly due to the fact that children tend to eat more snack food containing these chemicals.  Here is a comprehensive list of paraben containing foods that you need to look out for.

It is possible to get all the paraben containing products out of your diet and your home.  Below are a few links to paraben-free products. With just a little research you can find many more.

-Aveda (

-Burt’s Bees (

-Dr. Hauschka (

-John Masters Organics (

-Josie Maran Cosmetics (

-Korres (

-Origins (

-Pangea Organics (

There is no need to be pre-ocupied with parabens.  With a little awareness and caution applied to the foods and products you use, you can virtually eliminate parabens with very little work. I have heard multiple patients of mine saying things like “everything causes cancer,” but this is simply not true.

Avoid preservatives by buying fresh food and shopping more often.  Get the parabens out of your bathroom cabinet and be especially aware of the skin lotion you use since it covers such a large part of the body.  With some attention and focus, you will be taking better care of yourself and your family.

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)

16. April 2015 by christian
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