Scientists in the United Kingdom found para-hydroxybezoic acids (parabens), a chemical commonly found in hair and beauty products, in breast tumors. Their analysis of 20 breast tumours found high concentrations of the chemical in 18 samples. Parabens can mimic the hormone estrogen, which is known to play a role in the development of breast cancer.
“From this research it is not possible to say whether parabens actually caused these tumors, 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 research.
The new research was led by molecular biologist Philippa Darbre, at the University of Reading. “One would expect tumors to occur evenly, with 20 per cent arising in each of the five areas of the breast,” Darbre told New Scientist.
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 cancer cell growth.
Although this research focused on underarm deodorant containing parabens and their relationship to breast cancer, which has a close proximity to breast tissue, the implications of hair products that are applied to the scalp may be critical.
Journal reference: Journal of Applied Toxicology (vol 24, p5)