By Paula Goodyer
Excerpt: Tip out the contents of any woman's toiletry bag and you'll find deodorant, body lotion, sunscreen and shampoo, all of which may contain parabens – widely used preservatives that come under the heading of endocrine-disrupting chemicals – meaning that if they get into the body in high enough doses they can potentially act like hormones.
The latest, a study in cells, not humans, from the University of California Berkeley and funded by the California Breast Cancer Research Program found that even at low levels parabens could stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells when they interact with a growth factor that's naturally produced in a woman's body.
"This is beginning to build a bigger picture of how parabens might act in the body," says Dr Philippa Darbre, Associate Professor of Oncology at the UK's University of Reading who's been investigating the effects of parabens and other environmental chemicals on breast tissue for more than a decade. "It's not as simple as looking at one chemical acting in isolation. We need a full picture of all the environmental chemicals detected in the breast and all the pathways through which they act in the body before we can begin to understand what effects they might have.