Paraben Toxicology

Dermatitis. 2019 Jan/Feb;30(1):32-45. doi: 10.1097/DER.0000000000000428.


Parabens now being formally declared as the American Contact Dermatitis Society (non)allergen of the year, the allergologic concerns regarding parabens raised during the past century are no longer a significant issue. The more recent toxicological concerns regarding parabens are more imposing, stemming from the gravity of the noncutaneous adverse health effects for which they have been scrutinized for the past 20 years. These include endocrine activity, carcinogenesis, infertility, spermatogenesis, adipogenesis, perinatal exposure impact, and nonallergologic cutaneous, psychologic, and ecologic effects. To assert that parabens are safe for use as currently used in the cosmetics, food, and pharmaceutical industries, all toxicological end points must be addressed. We seek to achieve perspective through this exercise: perspective for the professional assessing systemic risk of parabens by all routes of exposure. The data reviewed in this article strive to provide a balanced perspective for the consumer hopefully to allay concerns regarding the safety of parabens and facilitate an informed decision-making process. Based on currently available scientific information, claims that parabens are involved in the genesis or propagation of these controversial and important health problems are premature. Haste to remove parabens from consumer products could result in their substitution with alternative, less proven, and potentially unsafe alternatives, especially given the compelling data supporting the lack of significant dermal toxicity of this important group of preservatives.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipogenesis
  • Androgen Antagonists
  • Breast Neoplasms*
  • Endocrine Disruptors / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Pollution*
  • Estrogens
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility*
  • Male
  • Parabens / adverse effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Preservatives, Pharmaceutical / adverse effects*
  • Skin Neoplasms*
  • Spermatogenesis


  • Androgen Antagonists
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Estrogens
  • Parabens
  • Preservatives, Pharmaceutical