Do Parabens Cause Cancer?   

Do Parabens Cause Cancer?

Concerns about parabens in personal items like makeup and lotions
Clinical Contributors to this story:
Harriet Borofsky, M.D.

While some studies have reported an association between parabens and breast cancer, the FDA has noted that the parabens used in cosmetics do not have an effect on human health, at this time. 

Parabens are chemicals that are added to cosmetic and personal care products such as lotions, sunscreen, makeup and hair care products to increase the shelf-life of the product.

Should you avoid using products that contain parabens?

Currently, there aren’t any scientific studies to suggest that parabens do cause breast cancer, especially at the levels to which we are exposed. “While some studies suggest that parabens may alter the hormonal milieu and induce cancers in rat models, there are no studies, to date, that show low levels of parabens in cosmetics and hair products cause breast cancer in women,” says breast imaging specialist Harriet Borofsky, M.D.

But if you are concerned about your exposure to parabens or are at an elevated risk of breast cancer, there are many products on the market that are paraben free.

If you are worried about your exposure to parabens or your risk for breast cancer:

  • Look for products labeled paraben-free if you are concerned.
  • Get screened for breast cancer:
    • Women between 40 and 44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year.
    • Women 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
    • Women 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year or choose to continue annual mammograms.

Next Steps & Resources

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.


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