Hormones control many processes in the body, for example, how it develops the fetus within the uterus or how mature our organism. Hormones are also essential for the normal functioning of the genitals in men as in women. External factors, such as stress and chemicals, can affect our endocrine system. Some external chemical substances have the same effect on our organism that natural body hormones, while others affect our level of natural hormones. The latter are known as endocrine disruptors. There are a lot of different endocrine disruptors and especially phthalates, dioxins, PCBs, Nonylphenol and Bisphenol a compounds is in focus when speaking of endocrine disrupters. Many of the substances are prohibited due to the known effects. However, some suspicious chemicals are still used for example be endocrine disruptors in cosmetics, personal care products, food and plastics, and for both these substances can potentially influence some of the vital processes in our body.
Parabens in cosmetics to some of the most known and discussed, chemicals that are suspected of being endocrine disrupters, are parabens. Parabens are a group of chemicals that act as preservatives. Used, among other things, cosmetics, hygiene products and food to prolong its durability. Six different parabens are used in cosmetic products: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben isopropylparaben, isobutylparaben four of these six substances are included in the list of the European Union of substances suspected of being endocrine disruptors (below you can find the list of EU priorities). These four compounds are: Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben and Butylparaben. These are classified by the EU as category 1, this means, that in trials with animals displayed clear signs of properties of endocrine disruption. Isobutylparaben, Isopropylparaben, and the other two still they have not been evaluated in the list of priorities of the EU. How can potentially harm us parabens and other endocrine disruptors? Scientific studies do not show a conclusive proof of the danger of these chemicals, but some experts suspect that endocrine disrupters affect many processes that are generated in our body, for example; the ability to have children and when children reach puberty.