Should we be worried about parabens in medicine?

Parabens are used in many medications as a preservative. They’re also used in many cosmetics, skin care products and processed foods for the same reason. And they do a top notch job. They’re tasteless, odourless, colourless, they don’t react to chemicals they come in contact with, and they’re cheap. Without them, medicines, foods and other products – products that sit in storage and on shelves for a long time – would start to grow mould and bacteria and become unsafe to use and consume.

However we know a small number of the population are allergic to parabens, around 2 per cent, and recently there has been increasing concern over the possible health consequences of long-term accumulation of parabens in the body.

Health authorities around the world mandate that parabens used in food products should be at concentrations of no more than 0.1%, except for Europe which has banned their use in food altogether. Similarly, most pharmaceuticals are manufactured with no more than 0.1% parabens, however some liquid medicines can have paraben concentrations up to 5%.

With parabens being used in more and more everyday products, could their levels build up in the body to toxic levels? Proponents of parabens say they have ‘minimal toxicity’, however that doesn’t mean they have ‘no’ toxicity. Could toxins accumulate in the body over time if multiple paraben-containing products are used every day?

There’s no clear answer. No long-term studies have been conducted to test this theory of paraben accumulation however one controversial study has found parabens in human urine, serum, milk, placental tissue and breast tumour tissue. One Japanese study in 2002 found that parabens interfered with the male reproductive functioning of rats however no similar studies have been conducted for humans.

If you have a known allergy to parabens or have concerns about their use, a reputable compounding pharmacy like National Custom Compounding can, with a script from your doctor, make up your medication from scratch without parabens or other preservatives. We can do this safely as the medicine is being made locally, not in a facility overseas, and does not need to be stored for long periods of time.

Call us on 1300 731 755 or email [email protected] for more information.

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