In one of the Endometriosis Foundation of Kenya Awareness forums, I happened to mention a word not too familiar with many – parabens. Despite watching a very detailed clip on how the parabens affect us, I realized that not so many people had actually acknowledged the magnitude of their effect on our health, and especially for women affected by endometriosis.
However a participant in the forum called me up a few months afterwards and expressed her discouragement in getting genuine products that were paraben free in the market (Kenya). After a few conversations I recommended a criteria that would help anyone trying to identify these products (paraben-free) in the initial purchasing experience;
- Do not shop when in haste – the process of choosing your products will involve going through the ingredients of your bathing soap or shower gels, lotion, facial creams and hair products to rule out the possibilities of any parabens. It will therefore require more of your time and patience to identify at least two or three products that can suite you, your budget and lifestyle.
- Avoid shopping alongside your major purchases. Select a day specifically for the shopping of your cosmetics,skin care and hair care products (especially during the first three purchase cycles/ trials). Note also that some of these products might be pricier than the products that contain parabens and hence it would be advisable not shop together with your major buys.
- Choose a day or time when you are more relaxed of mind and less stressed out…..why? Because when you are stressed and agitated or fatigued, you want to rush your purchases. This might lead you to buy the next best product ( which might have parabens) or might end up frustrating you further because it’s taking longer than you anticipated which in turn increases the opportunity of inflammation in your body,leading to pains and the cycle goes on…..endo-warriors understand this phenomenon clearly.
- When looking out for parabens, they usually form part of a longer name eg. Butylparaben, Methylparaben, or Proplyparaben – being some of the most common ones, so be alert.
- Some products have their ingredients written under the peel-off-paper….look out for this and gently follow the arrow direction to see the ingredients below it.
So what are parabens?
Parabens are chemical that form part of the ingredients that are used as preservatives in the lotions, soaps, shower gels and hair products that we use. They prevent the growth of bacteria In order to ensure that the product stays fresh for a longer period. They are more like the brandy they add to wedding cakes to make sure they don’t go stale before the big day. Are they dangerous? Not at all. Only issue is that they are deemed to be xenoestrogens or agents that mimic estrogen in the body. Well, for women with endometriosis, our number one biggest enemy is estrogen. Endometriosis is said to be feeding or thriving in estrogen, and that is why most of the hormonal medication administered has progesterone to counter that.
Are parabens safe for women without endometriosis? I wouldn’t vouch for their use. Research may not yet be conclusive but there are indications that they could be associated with cancer related to the woman’s reproductive system.
So, there you are…..more enlightened for your next purchase of lotion or hair shampoo. If it’s too much of a task, my advice would be to keep it as close to natural as you possibly can.
Till next time, stay healthy.