According to new research, chemicals called parabens, which are common ingredients in everyday hair and personal care products, can encourage breast cancer cells in Black women.
In the United States, one in eight women will get breast cancer during their lifetime. Black women are more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to develop breast cancer before the age of 40.
“One reason for the higher risk of breast cancer may be exposure to harmful chemicals called endocrine-disrupting chemicals in hair and personal care products. These chemicals mimic the effects of hormones on the body.” shares lead researcher, Lindsey S. Treviño, Ph.D.
Parabens are common preservative ingredients used in cosmetic, personal hygiene, and food products to prevent the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms. The greatest exposure is believed to be through personal care products. Parabens enter the body via the skin or digestive system and have been detected in human tissues, blood, breast milk, placenta, and urine.
The study tested the effects of parabens on breast cancer cells from Black women. In both Black and white women, parabens increased expression of genes linked to hormone action in breast cancer cell lines. However, parabens only increased the growth of certain breast cancer cells in black women.
“These results provide new data that parabens also cause harmful effects in breast cancer cells from Black women,” Treviño said.
“While this project focuses on Black women, the knowledge we gain about the link between exposure to harmful chemicals in personal care products and breast cancer risk can be used to help all women at high risk of getting breast cancer,” concludes Treviño.
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