Parabens are regularly used as an ingredient in personal care products, and many are not aware of their existence or of their effects. Parabens are chemical compounds of para-hydroxybenzoic acid, and common types are butyl, propyl and ethyl parabens.
For many years, the use of parabens has been considered safe, both in the UK and overseas, and it is legal to use parabens in the UK. However, the safety of the use of parabens has been questioned in recent years, and although tests are mostly inconclusive, it is believed that parabens can cause an increase in oestrogen. The biggest area of concern is the effect of parabens on breast cancer, as several studies have found traces of parabens in women with breast cancer. There seems little doubt that parabens can affect breast tissue, but whether their presence increases the possibility of breast cancer is still uncertain.