Studies on the Effects of Paraben Mixtures on MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cells in Culture

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Master of Science
University of Canterbury. Department of Chemistry
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Webber, Kristie Elmslie

Parabens are the esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid and are commonly used as preservatives in personal care products, pharmaceutical preparations and cosmetics. Recently parabens have been found to be estrogenic, bringing into question if exposure to them is adversely affecting human health. Given exposure to multiple xenoestrogens is constant; research has been carried out to determine what effect combinations of xenoestrogens might have on human and environmental health. Parabens are almost always present in combinations in formulae as this increases their antimicrobial activity, so it is important to know what the effect of this is. The main aim of this study was to determine what the effect of combining methylparaben and butylparaben together has on the proliferation of MCF-7 breast cancer cells, which proliferate in the presence of estrogen. This study was carried out by exposing MCF-7 breast cancer cells to combinations of methylparaben and butylparaben and measuring cell proliferation by counting cells using a cytometer. The results show that butylparaben caused a greater increase in cell proliferation compared to methylparaben. When methylparaben and butylparaben were combined together, the resulting cell proliferation was greater than the cell proliferation produced by either methylparaben or butylparaben alone at a concentration twice the amount of either paraben concentration contained within the mixture. These results were analysed using Analysis of Variance, which determined the combination treatments were statistically different from the single treatments according to Fishers method. This suggests that there is a synergistic effect produced when methylparaben and butylparaben are combined together, however large variation and dose dependent discrepancies means this result is uncertain and further studies need to be carried out.

parabens, xenoestrogens, xenoestrogen combinations, estrogen mimics
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ANZSRC fields of research
Copyright Kristie Elmslie Webber