By the way, doctor: Are parabens dangerous?

Q I notice that parabens are found in many cosmetics and skin care products. I heard that they're carcinogenic. Is that true?

A Parabens (short for -hydroxybenzoic acid esters) are preservatives that are used in shampoos, lotions, cosmetics, and many other personal care products. By hindering the growth of microorganisms, parabens give products a longer, more stable shelf life. These chemicals, which include methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben, also have weak estrogenic effects.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »