Is Taking Care of Your Body Actually Exposing Yourself to Hidden Chemicals? Can We Reverse this Cycle? Yes and Yes!

Article Author: Lucy Watt, Biology Major, Class of 2024, POB Science Translator

Have you ever really wondered what chemicals are hiding in your personal care products? Well similar to many of us, Jason Tong, an environmental toxicology researcher at the University of California at Davis, and his colleagues had this same inquiry. They conducted a study in January 2023 that tested whether or not the US Food and Drug Administration’s “generally safe” level of 0.1% of parabens allowed in personal care products (PCPs) is actually safe for human exposure and usage. These chemicals are solubilizers, an ingredient in cosmetics that blends a small amount of an oil into an aqueous solution, such as gels, toners, and micellar waters. They can penetrate the skin when found in PCPs such as shampoo, deodorant, lotion, hair products, nail polish, and particularly artificial fragrance (Dairkee et al., 2023). When determining their conclusions, Tong and his colleagues found that even though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), allows 0.1% parabens in PCPs, a seemingly low percentage, it is too high and potentially dangerous as humans are constantly being exposed to parabens.

To replicate how humans interact with parabens in accordance with the FDA’s allowance of 0.1%, researchers exposed mice to low levels of parabens, and measured the development of cancerous mammary tumors. Tong calculated food intakes for the mice in the exposure range of 0.05% to 0.13% and found that mice exposed to two different kinds of parabens, methylparaben and propylparaben, experienced a “significant increase in total mammary tumor volume over time” (Tong et al., 2023). Another finding of this experiment was that the mice exposed to parabens also had a 28% and 91% increase in pulmonary metastases, lung tumors compared to mice with no exposure. The conclusion this study came to was that the 0.1% of parabens allowed by the FDA in food needs be reexamined, because this dosage can cause harm to individuals consuming it. There have been several petitions filed for the FDA to further regulate the chemicals allowed in our food and products, but so far no action has been taken by the FDA, however a promising study conducted by Shanaz Dairkee and colleagues in February 2023 showed that paraben exposure from PCPs can be reversible. 

In this study there were two groups of women that were under surveillance by the researchers. One a control group, that did not make any changes to their everyday routine, and an experimental group wherein the women were given a reduced xenoestrogen (REDUXE) kit filled with parabens and phthalates free PCPs. They were instructed to use them for twenty eight days straight. The subjects underwent initial urine, blood, and breast tissue sampling, and then again throughout the twenty eight day time period. The results of this study showed that not only did the women in the experimental group showed lower levels of xenoestrogen and xenoestrogen metabolites (a natural or synthetic compound in the body that mimics the effects of estrogen or promotes its production) in their urine as well as better control over potentially cancer causing genes in benign breast cells than before the detox (Dairkee et al., 2023). The subjects in the experimental group had an 80% decrease of transcription of cancer-promoting oncogenes and a 60% increase of transcription of tumor suppressor genes compared to the control group. Changes in gene expression are due to changes in the cell cycle, programmed cell death, and certain signaling pathways. These results of REDUXE subjects undergoing a reduction of urinary xenoestrogen levels, exposing less xenoestrogen to the breast and other tissues, increasing the amount of tumor suppressor genes and decreasing the expression of cancer-promoting oncogenes, shifting the body toward normal levels, are overwhelmingly positive and hopeful for our futures.

Simply by switching out the products you use for as short a time period as twenty eight days, you can effectively lower your paraben levels and even decrease the presence of cancer causing genes. This reduction coupled with changes in regulation of paraben levels by the FDA, leaves the future very hopeful for clean and safer products in our lives. Here at Protect Our Breasts, we aim to provide a similar service, by suggesting chemicals to avoid and sometimes, safe alternative products that you can use in your everyday lives to lower your paraben exposure.  Check out our website and social media for more information! 


Dairkee, S. H, et al. (2023, February 4). Reduction of daily-use parabens and phthalates reverses accumulation of cancer-associated phenotypes within disease-free breast tissue of study subjects. Chemosphere. Retrieved April 7, 2023, from 

Tong, J. H, et al. (2023, January 23). Chronic Exposure to Low Levels of Parabens Increases Mammary Cancer Growth and Metastasis in Mice. Retrieved March 1, 2023, from 


Disclaimer: The information provided herein is the author’s opinion. Our authors are not scientists. We are not providing medical advice, but simply sharing publicly available information. When we reference data and databases, we do so with the caveat that most are only as good as the data they are based on. While POB strives to make the information as timely and accurate as possible, we make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the completeness, or adequacy of the contents of any site that is shared, and expressly disclaims liability for errors and omissions in the contents of these sites. POB goes to great lengths to avoid declaring shared products as “safe” as there is no legal definition of the word “safe” at this time.

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