Parabens Seen in Almost All Breast Mastectomy Samples

Paraben esters seen in 99 percent of tissues from four locations in 40 human breast samples

THURSDAY, Jan. 12 (HealthDay News) -- One or more esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid (parabens) are seen in 99 percent of post-mastectomy, primary breast cancer tissue samples, and their concentrations vary within and between breasts, according to a study published online Jan. 12 in the Journal of Applied Toxicology.

Lester Barr, M.B., Ch.B., from the University Hospital of South Manchester in the United Kingdom, and colleagues measured the concentrations of five parabens using high performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry at four locations across the human breast (axilla to sternum). Human breast tissue was collected from 40 mastectomies performed for primary breast cancer between 2005 and 2008 in England.

The investigators found that, in 99 percent of tissue samples, one or more paraben esters were quantifiable, and in 60 percent, all five esters were identified. There was variation with respect to the levels of individual paraben esters as well as the levels of specific paraben esters detected at different locations in each breast or at the same locations in different breasts. The median values for paraben levels were highest for n-propylparaben and methylparaben, and were lower for n-butylparaben, ethylparaben, and isobutylparaben. Paraben was measured in the seven patients who reported never using underarm cosmetics. There was no association seen between paraben concentration and patient age, duration of breastfeeding, tumor location, or tumor estrogen receptor content. Significantly higher levels of n-propylparaben were seen in the axilla than mid or medial regions of the breast.

"Since paraben esters were measured in 99 percent of the samples, this demonstrates that, within the population studied, paraben was widely distributed both within and between breasts," the authors write.

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