Toxic effects of the easily avoidable phthalates and parabens

Altern Med Rev. 2010 Sep;15(3):190-6.


Some environmental toxins like DDT and other chlorinated compounds accumulate in the body because of their fat-soluble nature. Other compounds do not stay long in the body, but still cause toxic effects during the time they are present. For serious health problems to arise, exposure to these rapidly-clearing compounds must occur on a daily basis. Two such classes of compounds are the phthalate plasticizers and parabens, both of which are used in many personal care products, some medications, and even foods and food preservation. The phthalates are commonly found in foods and household dust. Even though they have relatively short half-lives in humans, phthalates have been associated with a number of serious health problems, including infertility, testicular dysgenesis, obesity, asthma, and allergies, as well as leiomyomas and breast cancer. Parabens, which can be dermally absorbed, are present in many cosmetic products, including antiperspirants. Their estrogenicity and tissue presence are a cause for concern regarding breast cancer. Fortunately, these compounds are relatively easy to avoid and such steps can result in dramatic reductions of urinary levels of these compounds.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma / chemically induced
  • Cosmetics / toxicity
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Environmental Exposure / prevention & control*
  • Environmental Monitoring / statistics & numerical data
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Household Products / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Infertility / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Parabens / toxicity*
  • Phthalic Acids / toxicity*
  • Risk Factors


  • Cosmetics
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Parabens
  • Phthalic Acids