Cosmetic chemicals and breast cancer
Dr Philippa Darbre, from Biological Sciences, has spent more than a decade studying parabens and the effects they may have when absorbed by the skin. Parabens are a class of chemicals widely used as preservatives in the cosmetic , pharmaceutical and food industries, and can be found, for example, in deodorant-antiperspirants, body lotions, and moisturisers.
Dr Darbre's research detected the presence of parabens and aluminium in samples taken from women who had undergone mastectomies for breast cancer, although no definite causal link has been identified. Intense media reporting caused widespread public concern and the World Health Organisation, the US Food and Drug Administration and the EU undertook reviews.
Response to the public concern and regulatory actions has led to the production of paraben-free and aluminium-free cosmetic products, which are now available on supermarket shelves.