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Parabens: How do they affect men? 

A reader asked the following question:

If the main thing parabens do that is detrimental is to increase estrogen, does that mean that the effects on men would be negligible?

That's a great question! We know that exposure to xenoestrogens like parabens can increase the potential for hormone-related issues like PCOS, endometriosis, and reproductive cancers in women, but how do parabens impact men? 

Previous studies on animals like zebrafish have found parabens to damage DNA and reproduction in men, the first study on how parabens affect human men was actually just published in October of 2017. This study found that paraben levels were associated with damage to DNA within sperm. 

However, a second study found that paraben levels do not seem to impact sperm quality in young men.

With the limited and conflicting research, there really needs to be more done before we know for sure how exposure to parabens affects sperm count and quality, and men's health in general. However, we do know a few other things. 

I've written previously about the effects that parabens have on enzymes responsible for flushing estrogen out of the body. When "clogged up" with parabens, these enzymes aren't able to do their job of flushing estrogen out of the body, resulting in increased estrogen levels.

study in the June 2017 edition of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology found that not only do parabens keep estrogen (E2) stuck in the body, but the ubiquitous xenoestrogen BPA. 

Significantly elevated BPA concentrations were observed following butyl paraben treatment in blood serum of both sexes, as well as the lungs, uterus, and ovaries of females and the testes and epididymides of males.

So, parabens keep other harmful xenoestrogens like BPA stuck in the body. And we do know that BPA levels do affect sperm quality and count. (Study) And that BPA levels are associated with behavioral problems in young boys. (Study) So, indirectly, through this function, parabens can impact men's health.

Additionally, one study found that exposure to parabens in the womb may affect the development of boys before they're even born, with decreased testosterone levels associated with higher paraben levels in cord blood. (Study)

So, the bottom line is, there's still a lot we don't know about parabens and men's health, but there is enough information here to show that parabens are not just a women's issue.

Reader Comments (1)

Great article! Thank you Stephanie!
I love this website!

While reading this article, I was wondering about the longevity of parabens in the human body.
Meaning, if a person stop using products containing parabens, how long will it take to "detoxify" themselves from parabens (and other harmful chemicals they use on products)?
Is there a proper way to accelerate the detox?
Do paraben accumulate in the body?

I can probably google all my questions, but I trust your knowledge and judgement, which is why I'm asking you.

Keep up with the awesome work!

Wed, February 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGabriela

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