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Do Parabens Cause Breast Cancer? New Research And Safety Tips

Do Parabens Cause Breast Cancer? New Research And Safety TipsPhoto – © Alliance – fotolia.com

What Are Parabens?: In the beauty community, there is a word that has become feared over the past several years – Parabens. These chemical compounds are used primarily for their bactericidal and fungicidal properties. They can be found in many shampoos, moisturizers, shaving gels, personal lubricants, topical pharmaceuticals, spray tanning solutions, makeup and toothpaste [1] – and are typically added to prolong shelf life. They work very similarly to food preservatives which help prevent food from spoiling too soon; parabens help prevent the growth of bacteria and mold on your cosmetic products. There are many products that contain parabens but skincare, roll-on antiperspirants and makeup are the most common objects that increase our paraben exposure. [2]

Parabens And Breast Cancer: There have been different studies on the effect of paraben exposure to the body — and some of the results are very worrying. A 2013 study published by Charles and Darbre focused on the estrogenic effect of parabens and their effect on human breast cancer cells. The study found that parabens in any form or concentration caused stimulation of breast cells, leading to cancerous growths. Darbre published another study in 2014 and found that parabens increased energy metabolism in breast tissue, which can account for the sudden growth and spread of the cancerous cells. Khanna, et. al. in 2014 found that exposure to parabens increased the metastatic ability of breast cancer cells, or the ability to spread and invade healthy tissues. [3][4][5]

Controversy: Despite these studies, the ACS and FDA have stated that parabens are not dangerous at the levels found in typical consumer products. [6][7] Astonishingly, the ACS has turned a 100% blind eye to the studies mentioned and stated that the concern over parabens is the result of an “email rumor”! [7] Can it really be that they are unaware of these studies? Are they selectively ignoring them? Or is there some other reason why they consider the research unworthy of consideration? They have stated plainly that there is “very little scientific evidence” – to which we can only answer that we have presented 3 published scientific studies here and you can check the links for yourself.

How Are We Exposed To Parabens? The most common route we are exposed to parabens (and which is regarded by some as the route that causes increased breast cancer risk) is increased is through deodorants or antiperspirants. Whenever you swipe a deo stick on your armpit, you are willingly introducing parabens (as well as numerous other chemicals, some of which have also been implicated) to your body and – according to the studies referenced, increasing your risk for cancer. However parabens are in all manner of products. According to the Breast Cancer Fund, parabens can be found in “nearly all urine samples” taken from adults residing in the US, regardless of their background and socioeconomic status. It has been proposed that parabens’ “estrogenic effect” is the reason why it can cause cancer. By mimicking the effects of the hormone estrogen, paraben causes the sudden growth of cells in the breast, which may become uncontrolled and cancerous. [8]

What You Can Do: The first thing to realize is that you are not required to use these consumer products. You do have a choice – though it will take some self-discipline and diligence. The next time you head to the supermarket, think twice before you reach for deodorant or antiperspirant. Instead of wasting money on something that can potentially give you cancer, seek the natural route instead. First you can look for products with “paraben free” labeling. The next step is to check the ingredients. Look for methylparaben (E number E218), ethylparaben (E214), propylparaben (E216),butylparaben and heptylparaben (E209). Less common parabens include isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben and benzylparaben. [1]

Alternatively – you can make your own! See our post How to Make Your Own Natural Deodorants Without Toxic Chemical Ingredients for instructions and ingredient lists.

References:

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraben

[2] US Food and Drug Administration. Parabens in Cosmetics. http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductsIngredients/Ingredients/ucm128042.htm

[3] Charles, A. & Darbre, P. (2013). Combinations of parabens at concentrations measured in human breast tissue can increase proliferation of MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23364952

[4] Darbre, P. & Harvey, P. (2014). Parabens can enable hallmarks and characteristics of cancer in human breast epithelial cells: a review of the literature with reference to new exposure data and regulatory status. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25047802ov/pubmed/25047802″ target=”_b

[5] Khanna, S., Dash, P. & Darbre, P. (2014). Exposure to parabens at the concentration of maximal proliferative response increases migratory and invasive activity of human breast cancer cells in vitro. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24652746

[6] “Parabens In Cosmetics” – FDA. http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductsIngredients/Ingredients/ucm128042.htm

[7] “Antiperspirants and Breast Cancer Risk” – American Cancer Society: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/athome/antiperspirants-and-breast-cancer-risk?sitearea=MED

[8] Breast Cancer Fund. Parabens. http://www.breastcancerfund.org/clear-science/radiation-chemicals-and-breast-cancer/parabens.html

These Are 5 Of The Best Antiviral Herbs To Support Your Immune System

These Are 5 Of The Best Antiviral Herbs To Support Your Immune SystemPhoto credits – see foot of article

Going the natural way to manage a variety of health-related problems is growing in popularity as modern day medicine starts to catch up with herbal folk remedies. There are plenty of studies that focus on the benefits of natural methods of treatment, compared to the notorious side effects of taking prescription drugs. However, there is an underlying truth that science has taken long to realize – that viruses are inherently part of the Earth – they have been around for billions of years, maybe even predating the arrival of humans. They have mutated over time, changing forms, yet modern medicine has come up against a stumbling block, with viruses rapidly developing immunity to new drugs and medical treatment. It’s clear that a completely new strategy is required…. or could it be an old strategy revisited? Plants could be the answer medicine has been waiting for. This is the focus of Stephen Buhner’s recent book – Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections. 1]

Resistant Infections

There is one word that strikes fear into the heart of many a medical professional, and that word is “drug resistant”. Infections that are resistant to multiple drugs are very hard to treat and often end in mortality. The CDC defines antiviral resistance as the way a virus has changed so that “antiviral drugs are less effective or not effective at all”. You would think that by this time modern medicine would have been able to make a drug against the common cold, but that is far, far off.

Similarly, the influenza virus constantly mutates – and as a result there is a yearly change to flu vaccines brought out into the market. Lin, Hsu, and Lin called viral infections a “critical issue” in public health, linking viral infections to chronic conditions like diabetes, liver cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. [2][3]

However, there are plenty of antiviral herbs that work well in fighting viral infections – and resistance is not developed by virii – presumably due to the plants’ broad array of active molecular components, as opposed to single-moleculed drugs. It’s been speculated that a single mutation could render a microorganism immune to a molecule – but that it is less likely for such an organism to be able to develop immunity to multiple active components at once.

Here are 5 of the best herbs considered antiviral – and some reference studies that have supported these benefits:

1. Oregano

This plant is not only popular because of its fragrant addition to a variety of dishes; it also has potent antiviral properties from a compound called carvacrol. According to Pilau, et. al. in 2011, carvacrol, a major compound found in Oregano essential oil, was able to inhibit viral activity of drug-resistant viruses, from herpes simplex to respiratory syncytial virus in humans. [13]

2. Garlic

Garlic is known for its strong antibacterial properties but how does it fare against viruses? Very well, as it happens. There are older studies published in the 1980s and 1990s that show garlic’s potential influenza-fighting properties. Tsai, et. al. in 1985 studied garlic extract and found that it was able to fight against influenza B. Similar results were seen in Weber’s study in 1992, where fresh garlic extract was virucidal against a variety of viruses, including the herpes simplex virus. Recently, Kang, et. al. in 2001 found that garlic was able to boost the body’s immune system which can help fight against viral infections. [10][11][12]

3. Elderberry

For centuries, Elderberry or elder has been used to manage the flu as well as treat open wounds. A 2012 study by Kinoshita, et. al. found that elderberry juice was able to boost the body’s immune response to the human influenza virus (a.k.a. the flu virus), able to defend the body against viral infection. [4][5]

4. Echinacea

Echinacea is a Native American plant used for hundreds of years on wounds and infections, dubbed a general “cure-all”. A recent publication by Ross concluded that Echinacea extract was able to reduce cold episodes and their length, reducing the need to take additional prescription drugs. He concluded that Echinacea could be an effective agent in managing and preventing the common cold. [6][7]

5. Calendula

According to the NIH, the flower of the Calendula (aka. Marigold) is typically used to manage muscle spasms, fever, and pain and swelling. There have been only a few studies that focus on the anti-viral activity of Calendula but a prominent one was published by Kalvatchev, Walder, and Garzaro, concluding that organic extract of Calendula officinalis could potentially have anti-HIV properties. The extract was able to significantly reduce HIV-activity and slow its progress. [8][9]

More Antiviral Herbs (Full Study):

For a highly detailed, top quality report on antiviral herbs, see Stephen Buhner’s Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections (Amazon link).

References:

[1] Buhner, S. (2013). Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections. https://www.amazon.com/Herbal-Antivirals-Remedies-Resistant-Infections/dp/1612121608

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza Antiviral Drug Resistance. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/antiviralresistance.htm

[3] Lin, L., Hsu, W. & Lin, C. (2014). Antiviral Natural Products and Herbal Medicines. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4032839/

[4] University of Maryland Medical Center. Elderberry. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/elderberry

[5] Kinoshita, E., et. al. (2012). Anti-influenza virus effects of elderberry juice and its fractions. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22972323

[6] University of Maryland Medical Center. Echinacea. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/echinacea

[7] Ross, S. (2016). Echinacea purpurea: A Proprietary Extract of Echinacea purpurea Is Shown to be Safe and Effective in the Prevention of the Common Cold. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26633727

[8] US National Library of Medicine. Calendula. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/235.html

[9] Kalvatchev, Z., Walder, R. & Garzaro, D. (1997). Anti-HIV activity of extracts from Calendula officinalis flowers. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9207986

[10] Tsai, Y., et. al. (1985). Antiviral Properties of Garlic: In vitro Effects of Influenza B, Herpes Simplex, and Coxsackie Viruses. https://www.thieme-connect.com/DOI/DOI?10.1055/s-2007-969553

[11] Weber, N., et. al. (1992). In vitro virucidal effects of Allium sativum (garlic) extract and compounds. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1470664

[12] Kang, N., et. al. (2001). Immunomodulating effect of garlic component, allicin, on murine peritoneal macrophages. http://www.nrjournal.com/article/S0271-5317(01)00269-X/abstract?cc=y=

[13] Pilau, M., et. al. (2011). Antiviral activity of the Lippia graveolens (Mexican oregano) essential oil and its main compound carvacrol against human and animal viruses. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24031796

Photo sources (lic. under Creative Commons):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echinacea#/media/File:EchinaceaPurpureaMaxima1a.UME.JPG
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sambucus#/media/File:Sambucus-berries.jpg
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calendula_officinalis#/media/File:Calendula_officinalis_03-09-2005_15.21.56.JPG
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garlic#/media/File:Garlic_Press_and_Garlic.jpg
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregano#/media/File:Origanum_vulgare_-_harilik_pune.jpg

Study Finds Turmeric Better At Treating Depression Than Prozac

Study Finds Turmeric Better At Treating Depression Than ProzacPhoto – ©akepong – fotolia.com

Depression is a disease that affects an estimated 350 million people all over the world. The World Health Organization reports that over 800,000 people die each year because of depression, with suicide being the second leading cause of death in 15 to 29 year olds. In fact, an estimated 7 percent of US adults (that’s 15.7 million people!) had at least one major depressive episode in 2013. Treating depression very difficult because of the stigma against mental health issues today.

There are many side effects that come with taking prescribed medication as well. Numerous medicated patients complain that they don’t “feel the same” or that the medication makes them sluggish and tired all the time. [1][2]

However, there are different studies that focus on the natural ways we can manage depression – with a very promising herb called Turmeric showing some very interesting results in new research.

Turmeric is an herb that has been historically used to manage a variety of ailments, because of an active substance called curcumin. Curcumin is a very strong antioxidant which can help fight chronic disease. A study published in 2016 by Al-Karawi, Al Mamoori, and Tayyar concluded that curcumin administration helped significantly reduce the signs and symptoms of major depression. Sanmukhani, et. al in 2014 had similar results, wherein curcumin could be used in conjunction with fluoxetine (a medication typically prescribed for depression, also known as Prozac) to manage the symptoms of MDD or major depressive disorder. It was equally as effective, if not better, than Prozac to manage depression — without any of the unwanted side effects. [3][4][5]

Turmeric may even be effective for people who are not diagnosed with a major depressive disorder but still suffer from bouts of depressive episodes. Zhang, et. al. in 2014 published a study that concluded curcumin’s neurorotective and anti-depressive ability could help manage mild, stress-induced depression. Not only is turmeric able to target depression specifically, it can also promote neurological health and well-being. Other important uses for turmeric include management of indigestion, stomach ulcers, arthritis, heart disease, viral and bacterial infections, and even cancer. This is all due turmeric’s potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. [3][6]

How To Make Turmeric Lemonade

You can take turmeric in a variety of ways- either in capsule form, as a spice you add to food or as a drink. I’ve even chopped small shavings of fresh turmeric onto savory dishes such as scrambled egg – but not everyone can handle this much turmeric flavor.

It turns out that turmeric is pretty versatile as a drink, you can make tea with it and drink either cold or hot. It can even be added to cool drinks like lemonade. Dried or powdered turmeric will work well; fresh turmeric can be quite spicy so be careful when you use it. Turmeric lemonade is very popular, since lemons pack a punch in the Vitamin C department, which helps boost immunity. Squeeze a few lemons into a glass, add a teaspoon or two of turmeric, some honey and perhaps a pinch of black pepper or cayenne if you’re feeling it – and you’re good to go! 🙂 Turmeric drinks keep pretty well too, so you can make it in advance and store it in your refrigerator overnight.

Getting Extra Benefit From Turmeric

It’s been shown that adding black pepper to turmeric causes what is known as a synergistic benefit – with the positive effects of the turmeric being multiplied. Full report: Substance In Black Pepper Increases Bioavailability Of Beneficial Turmeric Compounds by 2000%

References:

[1] World Health Organization. Depression. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/

[2] National Institute of Mental Health. Major Depression Among Adults. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/major-depression-among-adults.shtml

[3] University of Maryland. Turmeric. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric

[4] Al-Karawi, D., Al Mamoori, D. & Tayyar, Y. (2016). The Role of Curcumin Administration in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: Mini Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26610378

[5] Sanmukhani, J., et. al. (2014). Efficacy and safety of curcumin in major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23832433

[6] Zhang, L., et. al. (2014). Effects of curcumin on chronic, unpredictable, mild, stress-induced depressive-like behaviour and structural plasticity in the lateral amygdala of rats. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24405689