Parabens now being formally declared as the American Contact Dermatitis Society (non)allergen of the year, the allergologic concerns regarding parabens raised during the past century are no longer a significant issue. The more recent toxicological concerns regarding parabens are more imposing, stemming from the gravity of the noncutaneous adverse health effects for which they have been scrutinized for the past 20 years. These include endocrine activity, carcinogenesis, infertility, spermatogenesis, adipogenesis, perinatal exposure impact, and nonallergologic cutaneous, psychologic, and ecologic effects. To assert that parabens are safe for use as currently used in the cosmetics, food, and pharmaceutical industries, all toxicological end points must be addressed. We seek to achieve perspective through this exercise: perspective for the professional assessing systemic risk of parabens by all routes of exposure. The data reviewed in this article strive to provide a balanced perspective for the consumer hopefully to allay concerns regarding the safety of parabens and facilitate an informed decision-making process. Based on currently available scientific information, claims that parabens are involved in the genesis or propagation of these controversial and important health problems are premature. Haste to remove parabens from consumer products could result in their substitution with alternative, less proven, and potentially unsafe alternatives, especially given the compelling data supporting the lack of significant dermal toxicity of this important group of preservatives.
From the *Associates in Dermatology, Fort Myers, FL;
†American University of the Caribbean, Saint Martin;
‡Department of Dermatology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY; and
§Department of Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ.
Address reprint requests to Anthony F. Fransway, MD, Associates in Dermatology, 8381 Riverwalk Park Blvd, Ste 101, Fort Myers, FL 33919. E-mail: email@example.com.
D.V.B. is an Expert Panel Member, Cosmetic Ingredient Review, Washington, DC. J.A.Y. and Mayo Clinic have a licensing agreement with SkinSAFE. The other authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to declare.