Cosmetic and personal care product use, urinary levels of parabens and benzophenones, and risk of endometriosis: results from the EndEA study

Environ Res. 2021 May:196:110342. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.110342. Epub 2020 Oct 16.


Aim: To explore the relationship of urinary concentrations of different congeners of benzophenones and parabens with the utilization of cosmetics and personal care products (PCPs) and their impact on the risk of endometriosis, and to evaluate the influence of oxidative stress on associations found.

Methods: This case-control study comprised a subsample of 124 women (35 cases; 89 controls). Endometriosis was confirmed (cases) or ruled out (controls) by laparoscopy, with visual inspection of the pelvis and biopsy of suspected lesions (histological diagnosis). Urinary concentrations of benzophenone-1 (BP-1), benzophenone-3 (BP-3), 4-hydroxibenzophenone (4-OH-BP), methyl- (MeP), ethyl- (EtP), propyl- (PrP), and butyl-paraben (BuP), and biomarkers of oxidative stress [lipid peroxidation (TBARS) and total antioxidant power (TAP)] were quantified. Information was gathered on the frequency of use of cosmetics and PCPs. Associations between the frequency of cosmetics/PCP use, urinary concentrations of benzophenones and parabens, oxidative stress, and endometriosis risk were explored in logistic and linear multivariable regression analyses.

Results: The frequency of utilization of certain cosmetics and PCPs was significantly associated with urinary concentrations of benzophenones and parabens. After adjustment for potential confounders, the risk of endometriosis was increased in women in the second versus first terciles of MeP (OR = 5.63; p-value<0.001), BP-1 (OR = 5.12; p-value = 0.011), BP-3 (OR = 4.98; p-value = 0.008), and ƩBPs (OR = 3.34; p-value = 0.032). A close-to-significant relationship was observed between TBARS concentrations and increased endometriosis risk (OR = 1.60, p-value = 0.070) and an inverse association between TAP concentrations and this risk (OR = 0.15; p-value = 0.048). Oxidative stress results did not modify associations observed between benzophenone/paraben exposure and endometriosis risk.

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that the frequency of cosmetics and PCP utilization is a strong predictor of exposure to certain benzophenone and paraben congeners. These compounds may increase the risk of endometriosis in an oxidative stress-independent manner. Further studies are warranted to corroborate these findings.

Keywords: Benzophenones; Endocrine disruption; Endometriosis; Oxidative stress; Parabens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Benzophenones / toxicity*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cosmetics*
  • Endometriosis* / chemically induced
  • Endometriosis* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Parabens / toxicity*


  • Benzophenones
  • Cosmetics
  • Parabens