What Are the Dangers of Methylparaben?

Methylparaben is used to preserve food and cosmetics. It is a fungicide and anti-bacterial agent, extending the shelf-life of a product. Methylparaben is quickly absorbed through the skin, and through the intestinal tract when used as a food preservative. There is a great deal of controversy surrounding its use, with many reports of dangerous side effects.

Breast Cancer

Methylparaben is widely used as a preservative in women's cosmetics, such as skin creams and deodorants. This compound has been found intact within breast cancer tissues. Some researchers suggest that methylparaben may increase risk of breast cancer, or accelerate the growth of these tumors.

Skin and Eye Damage

Skin treated with creams that contain methylparaben can be damaged with exposure to the sun's UVB rays. This oxidative stress -- damage of the skin cells -- is responsible for a number of disease processes, including cancer.

Eye drops containing methylparaben, even in small amounts, can damage the lining of the eyes, as well as the cornea.

Male Fertility

Parabens, including methylparaben, mimic the effects of estrogen in the human body 1. As a result, some researchers suggest that compounds containing parabens can cause decreased sperm production and motility.