“Would you like fertility problems and premature balding with that cinnamon bun…” Such should be a question asked when selling certain toxic, pre-packaged foods in America, especially since a known endocrine disruptor lurks in over 50 popular snack foods many reach for without second thought.
But who actually second-guesses the safety of their food when approved by organizations like the FDA? And this is exactly the case with the endocrine-disrupting chemical, propyl paraben. Although the European Food Safety Authority banned the preservative (often used in make-up and cosmetic products) from being used in food products in 2006, the Food and Drug Administration has listed it to be “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS).
And this is a big problem, according to an analysis recently released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). When they studied this preservative in a lab, they found that it adversely affects the sex hormones and sperm counts in young rats.
They also unearthed that propyl paraben is present in nearly 50 American snack foods, including Weight Watchers cakes, Sara Lee cinnamon rolls, Cafe Valley muffins, and La Banderita corn tortillas. While it is difficult to predict what percent of the population might be ingesting the preservative, it is likely that at least half of individuals might at some point, as certain sources cite that Americans obtain 70% of their calories from processed foods.
These findings are important to note because a review of scientific research shows that propyl paraben acts as a weak synthetic estrogen and can alter hormone signaling, shares EWG. As cited in a recent study by Harvard School of Public Health, exposure to the chemical might be associated with diminished fertility. And over-abundance of estrogen in the system has already been linked with concerns like aging, acne, breast cancer, allergies, hair loss, hypoglycemia, osteoporosis, and many, many more concerns.
“It is of great concern to us that the use of an endocrine-disrupting chemical in our food is considered safe by our our government,” said Johanna Congleton, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., a senior scientist at EWG. “Studies show that chemicals that disrupt hormone signaling can lead to developmental and reproductive problems.” EWG has urged the FDA to reassess the safety status of preservative propyl paraben in light of the new science that links it to hormone disruption.
“The U.S. Regulatory process is failing to protect us and our food supply,” Congleton stated. “European Union regulators do not permit propyl paraben in food. So why do we?”
EWG recommends that everyone avoid products that contain parabens, especially the long-chained varieties – propyl paraben, isopropyl paraben, butyl paraben, and isobutyl paraben. To see the full list of foods they found the additive in, visit EWG.