Traditional healers often use ginger to treat ailments ranging from nausea to arthritis pain. Recent studies highlight another use for ginger, the amelioration of the impact of parabens, a chemical widely used in the food and beverage industry and as a preservative in personal care products, drugs, and cosmetics. Parabens have been in the news recently thanks to studies which show the vast majority of Americans show signs of exposure. If ginger does indeed reduce parabens' impact that gives it increased importance as a significant natural health therapy.
Studies show parabens are widespread in the human populationParabens role as a pseudo or xenoestrogen means they may be implicated in a number of health conditions such as the early onset of puberty and hormonally related illnesses such as breast and colon cancer. Parabens have also been linked to oxidative degradation of fats and reduced levels of anti-oxidants in the livers of mice.
How common are parabens? In a 2010 study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, scientists evaluated over 2,500 urine samples from Americans over the age of six and found exposure to methyl parabens in over 99% of the sample and to propyl parabens in over 92%.
Of special interest is their evaluation of the sample by age and sex which found adolescent and adult females had significantly higher concentration of methyl and propyl parabens than did any males. The authors attribute this to the fact that women and girls use many more personal care products than do males at any age.
These results also suggests the importance of considering the cumulative impact of parabens. Manufacturers may be correct in claiming that the amount in any one product does not pose a health risk, however since most women use multiple products, their cumulative impact can be significant.
Parabens may be linked to breast cancerStudies of biopsy tissue from women with breast cancer have found measurable levels of parabens which are associated with the growth of cancer cells in test tubes. An article published in January of 2012 in the Journal of Applied Toxicology measured parabens found in breast tissue from 40 women who had undergone a mastectomy. Measurements were taken at four locations across the breast. One or more parabens were found in 99% of the samples and five different parabens were found in 60% of the samples.
The study results also showed that the highest concentrations of parabens were found in the underarm area and entered the body through the skin.
Ginger can help ameliorate the impact of parabensIn a 2009 animal study reported in the journal Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica-Drug Research, scientists in India orally administered parabens to mice. The result was increased oxidative degradation of fats and decreased levels of anti-oxidants in the livers of of the treated mice compared to the controls. Another group was given both parabens and ginger. In this group there was a significant decrease in paraben induced liver damage along with an increase in anti-oxidant levels. The scientists concluded that ginger can significantly reduce paraben induced liver damage.
In a 2006 study in the same journal human red blood cells were treated with parabens in a test tube. The result was a significant increase in the rate of hemolysis, or breakdown of the cells. When ginger was introduced to the samples along with parabens the result was a significant decrease in the rate of breakdown.
Sources used in this article include:http://www.breastcancerfund.org