There is much debate about the damage caused by parabens with some reports stating that they damage hair follicles and bulbs, weaken the hair, block pores, cause allergic reactions and increase the risk of cancer.
Several studies have shown that parabens can affect the mechanisms of normal breast cells and potentially influence their abnormal growth, leading to increased risk for breast cancer
Breast Cancer Care says “Some tests have found that parabens can be present in our bodies at high concentrations. This might increase breast cancer risk, particularly if exposure to parabens occurs during the three main periods of breast tissue development, which occur in the womb, around puberty, and during pregnancy.”
Chemo and parabans
Patients undergoing chemo treatment should be particularly aware of the potential implications of parabens on their hair. During and after an infusion of chemo drugs, your liver is working overtime to clear out the toxins from your body – but the diluted drugs need to escape from somewhere, and this includes the skin pores on your scalp.
The toxins are pushed up and secreted through your hair bulbs in a liquid form. You won’t notice because it evaporates as soon as it hits the surface, but it leaves behind a slight powder residue. If you use a shampoo and conditioner containing parabens, you will have some residual build-up on your hair. When the diluted chemo toxins are pushed up through the scalp they mix with the paraben particles and can produce a ‘chemical cocktail’ that can cause reactions such as a rashes or soreness as well as weakening your hair.
Why you need to avoid parabens when cold capping
If you’re cold capping, you want to give yourself the best possible chance of success. That includes avoiding products that could in someway contribute to hair loss!
Cold cap therapy involves fitting a specially designed cap, filled with a very cold gel or liquid, snugly onto your head to cool the scalp. It cools the hair capillaries, reducing the metabolic rate of the follicles so they go into a hibernated state, thereby preventing the hair bulbs absorbing the chemotherapeutic drugs. For more information about Cold Capping click here
After chemo, when your cold cap session is finished, your hair follicles start to come out of their hibernated state, and if you use hair products with parabens you risk reducing the effectiveness of cold capping as the potent chemical toxin attacks.
- Make sure you wash your hair 24 hours after you finish chemo; diluted toxins will continue to escape through your scalp for a period of time after chemo treatment and you want to ensure you wash them all away
- Completely avoid shampoos and conditioners that contain parabens – wash your hair with a paraben-free, PH neutral shampoo
- When using a conditioner, by its very nature, it coats the hair – this is why your hair feels smoother and tangle-free afterwards. So even when using a paraben-free conditioner, gently apply to the ends of your hair only, and ensure you don’t apply near the roots
How to go paraben-free
Look for “paraben-free.” It’s possible to find a number of personal care products, including lotions, deodorants, shampoos, and other cosmetics, that don’t contain parabens
- Check the ingredients. Watch out for products containing methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and other ingredients ending in -paraben
- Keep it simple. The best way to avoid chemicals is to reduce the number of personal care products you use. Each product is an additional source of chemicals, so by using fewer products, you reduce the amount of unknown and untested chemicals entering your body.
- Re-evaluate your daily routine—count how many hair and skin products you use each day and ask yourself which ones you can do without
If you want to ask advice, or you have found a paraben-free PH Neutral product that works for you, please share with the members of the Facebook Chemotherapy Support Group.