At Breast Cancer Action, we pursue large-scale systemic changes that address the root causes of breast cancer and help to eliminate our involuntary exposures to toxins present in our daily lives. We call out corporations and regulatory agencies that allow for the use of toxic chemicals that have been linked to increased risk for breast cancer, including parabens, phthalates <link>, PFAS, and other chemicals that are potentially carcinogenic, interfere with normal hormone function, and/or alter mammary gland development. 

In fact, BCAction became the first breast cancer organization to identify parabens as a source of concern related to breast cancer risk in 2003 

Here’s what you need to know about parabens:

  • Parabens are chemical preservatives that have been identified as estrogenic and disruptive of normal hormone function. Estrogenic chemicals mimic the function of the naturallyoccurring hormone estrogen, and exposure to external estrogens these chemicals has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer. 
  • Parabens are used as preservatives in personal care products and cosmetics to extend shelf life. 
  • They are most commonly used in lotions, sunscreen, antiperspirants, makeup and hair products. 
  • Studies have detected parabens in nearly all urine samples taken from adults in the U.S. 
  • The use of body and face lotions, hair products, sunscreens and makeup have all been predictors of and correlate with significantly increased levels of urinary parabens.  
  • Because they are estrogenic, parabens disrupt the normal function of both male and female reproductive systems and can affect reproductive development, fertility, and birth outcomes. Parabens can also interfere with the production of hormones.  
  • Propylparaben can alter the expression of genes, and accelerate the growth of breast cancer cells.

What You Can Do:

Want to know if your products contain parabens? Here are some steps to take:

  1. Check the product’s packaging for the “paraben-free” or “0% parabens” labels. 
  2. Look on the ingredient list for the following: methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isopropylparaben and isobutylparaben. 
  3. Find out which company makes the product you use. See if it has an ingredient list available on the product itself or on its website. Today it isn’t hard to find companies that do not use parabens, making your choices more convenient and easier. 
  4. E-mail or call the company to ask if its products contain parabens. 

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require testing or approval of any cosmetic products prior to entering the market. Consequently, parabens and other harmful ingredients are regarded as safe for use in cosmetic formulas. The absence of regulatory accountability in this multibillion-dollar industry allows individual companies to market products with ingredients that, as they accumulate in the body, may potentially pose serious health risks, including an increased risk of breast cancer. 

Our health is more important than corporate profit.

We’ve run multiple campaigns targeting cosmetic companies to stop the use of toxic chemicals that are linked to breast cancer risk. We also support legislation to stop exposure to harmful chemicals in products before they reach market, not after people experience the results of lifelong exposure.  

To join us in calling for systemic change rather than individual acts of risk reduction, join our mailing list and take action on behalf of all people living with and at risk of breast cancer! 


Mission, Vision, and Values
Among the endless sea of lucrative breast cancer charities, corporate donors, and pharmaceutical-funded research agendas, the independent voice that defines Breast Cancer Action has never been more urgently needed, and our relevance as an activist watchdog organization is greater than ever.  READ MORE

Root Causes of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a complex group of diseases that occurs in an environmentally complex world. We are exposed to multiple chemicals and radiation sources in the course of our daily lives. READ MORE

Our Commitment to Social Justice
Breast cancer is a widespread health crisis in a male-dominated and profit-driven society, and addressing and ending the breast cancer epidemic requires profound changes at every level of our society. READ MORE