Although parabens have been used for years as a preservative in many cosmetics (they are found in shampoos, moisturising creams, deodorants, shaving gels, topical medications, sunscreens, childcare products and toothpaste, or as additives in foods), the safety of these compounds is still a matter of controversy. A scientific study published in 2004 (Darbre, Journal of Applied Toxicology) highlighted the ability of parabens to mimic the behaviour of oestrogens, which play an important role in the pathogenesis of breast cancer. The study also detected the presence of parabens in the breast tissue of 18 patients out of 20 who were suffering from breast cancer. On the basis of the ongoing debate in the international scientific community, on 3 May 2011 France adopted a bill prohibiting the use of phthalates, parabens and alkylphenols, three categories of substances that disrupt the endocrine system.
The cosmetics industry assures that parabens are completely safe and argues that in-depth research that proves otherwise is needed.
However, no studies on the long-term effects have ever been carried out.
What action will the Commission take to finance studies on the long-term effects of endocrine disruptors?
In accordance with the precautionary principle, can it say whether, on the basis of the information it already has, any changes will be made to the current maximum permitted level for parabens and whether measures such as those taken in France should be adopted in all Member States?