The front of the bottle says all natural and organic dog shampoo. You flip the bottle over and you see paraben, methylparaben, or propyl paraben listed in the ingredients.
Are parabens natural and organic ingredients? Are they safe? Should you risk using it on your dog?
What Are Parabens?
Parabens are a group of artificial (synthetic) preservatives that were developed back in the roaring 1920s. With a higher population of women than men after World War I and women entering the job market, women were looking for ways to out glamor one another and cosmetics led the way.
Manufacturers responded with the development of a multitude of cosmetics that were for the most part, safer than those of the previous century as they didn't contain lead, sulfur or mercury!
Parabens, very low cost synthetic chemical preservatives, were developed to keep these cosmetics from growing bacteria, fungus, and mold.
Are Parabens Safe?
If you are looking for a scientific study that links dogs dying from cancer to the exposure of parabens, you won't find it. We do however know some important scientific facts.
Dogs have less layers of skin than humans so we could assume that if a compound is readily absorbed through a human's skin, it will be just as readily absorbed through your dog's skin.
Veterinarians have been reporting an increase in hormone related illnesses in dogs along with an increase in cancer rates. We also know that hormone levels are closely linked with the immune system.
Studies going back to 1967  identify parabens are linked with skin irritation and allergic reactions.
In 1998, studies indicated that parabens can mimick estrogen in the human body and that parabens applied to skin are more estrogenic than those consumed orally .
This study stated: “Given their use in a wide range of commercially available topical preparations, it is suggested that the safety in use of these chemicals should be reassessed, with particular attention being paid to estimation of the actual levels of systemic exposure of humans exposed to these chemicals.”
A 2004 study found traces of five different parabens in 19 of 20 human breast cancer tumors  indicating that parabens may accumulate in the body. Additional studies have identified estrogen-sensitive breast cancer cells!
In 2006, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) found that parabens are rapidly absorbed through intact skin validating concerns regarding their safety.
These studies and others paint the picture of a compound that can be readily absorbed through the skin, disrupt the hormone system and bioaccumulate!
The FDA maintains that in low doses, parabens are considered safe for humans and while they have put limits on the levels of parabens allowed in food and beverages, they do not regulate parabens in cosmetics and personal care products.
Reality Infused With Science
The biopsy from my breast cancer revealed tumor markers that were strongly estrogen and mildly progesterone positive. The cancer cells used the hormones estrogen and progesterone to grow and multiply.
Combined with the fact that paraben mimics estrogen in the body and disrupts hormone function, I have worked to eliminate my exposure to parabens.
Weighing the Risk of Exposure
Science may not have definitive evidence that links synthetic chemicals and health effects in a straightforward formula like Paraben + Dog = Hormone Disruption / Cancer.
Likewise, science can't demonstrate the love I had for both Henry Clay (who died from cancer on the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013) and Gracie Mae (who died in February 2017 after years of health issues related to hormone disruption).
My life experiences and the scientific evidence is more than enough to convince me the risk of exposing my dog's largest organ - their skin - to any synthetic chemical like paraben is too high.
Using 4-Legger, a safe and non-toxic organic dog shampoo is an easy step you can take to reduce your dog's exposure to paraben and other synthetic chemicals.
Play it safe with 4-Legger!
1: Schamberg Ira Leo. Allergic contact dermatitis to methyl and propyl paraben. Archives of Dermatology. 1967
2: Routledge EJ, Parker J, Odum J, Ashby J, Sumpter JP. Some alkyl hydroxy benzoate preservatives (parabens) are estrogenic. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 19983: Darbre PD1, Aljarrah A, Miller WR, Coldham NG, Sauer MJ, Pope GS.Concentrations of parabens in human breast tumours.J Appl Toxicol. 2004