Drug officials calm fears about cosmetic preservative

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The Drug Administration of Vietnam (DAV) notified health departments across the country, on Wednesday, that several drug and cosmetic products containing parabens were available in Vietnam.

Parabens are used primarily for their bactericidal and fungicidal properties. They can be found in shampoos, commercial moisturizers, shaving gels, personal lubricants, topical/parenteral pharmaceuticals, spray tanning solution, makeup, and toothpaste.

The chemicals are widely used as a preservative in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. Lately, some foreign governments and public health bodies have become concerned about a possible link between paraben exposure and cancer.

But, on Wednesday, the DAV reminded the public that medical science has yet to demonstrate a causal link between parabens and cancer.

On May 3, members of the French National Assembly voted to pass a bill that would immediately ban the use of endocrine disruptors such as phthalates, alkylphenols, and parabens in consumer products. In order for the bill to become law, the French Senate must ratify the move.

That vote has not yet been scheduled.

Since the vote in the French National Assembly, consumers have come to fear the possible carcinogen effects of parabens.

The DAV released its report following myriad translations of a Le Monde report, on May 23, that claimed some 400 medicinal products in France contain parabens.

The Le Monde article said that products containing parabens reportedly include antibiotics Josacine and Zinnat; generic versions of paracetamol; baby products; cough syrups Clarix, Codotussyl, Drill, Hexapneumine, Humex, Pectosan and Rhinathiol; as well as the anti-nausea product Primperan.

In Vietnam, parabens are permitted in several pharmaceutical and cosmetic products, but the levels of parabens used in these products are regulated by law.

The products include antibiotics Zinnat and Gentamincine and anti-nausea product Primperan.

Cosmetic producers must prove that their products contain safe levels of parabens before being licensed for sale, according to the DAV.

The DAV acknowledged that a 2004 study, conducted in the UK, found that early cases of breast cancer related to more frequent use of antiperspirant/deodorant and underarm shaving. However, the organization also pointed out that no direct evidence exists of a causal link between paraben exposure and cancer.

The DAV also cited a 2007 announcement from the US Federal Drug Administration that claimed that no evidence existed demonstrating the carcinogen effects of parabens and that more analysis must be carried out to determine the risks.

In its report, the DAV ordered the National Center for Drug Information to further explore existing research.

It asked pharmaceutical and cosmetic producers to actively work on reducing the content of parabens in their products or switch to non-chemical preservatives.

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