On Parabens and Cancer: Interview with Ruth Romano

Today we're going to get up close and personal with a lovely colleague of mine who teaches soapmaking. Ruth and I have had some great discussions, exchanged information and compared research notes on the role parabens may or may not play in causing cancer. Even though we haven't always agreed, we've learned a lot from each other.

Ruth has been especially motivated to look into this particular subject because she is a cancer survivor.

When I asked if she would be willing to share her story with you, Ruth (sweetie pie that she is) agreed.

You are a survivor of breast cancer and were diagnosed at a pretty early age. Can you share a bit about this?

I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was only 32. I didn’t consider myself to be in a high-risk category given my age and I had no genetic history of breast cancer. I was also fit being a bit of a running freak.

It was a massive shock.

Breast cancer in young women is relatively rare as more than 80% of breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50 (source: Breast Cancer Care).

Can you share a bit about how you came to connect parabens to cancer?  

The year before my diagnosis, the Darbre parabens research study was published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology but it didn’t appear on my radar until I had finished my treatment.

The 2004 study found parabens in the breast tumours of twenty women.

Even though this is not conclusive evidence of parabens causing cancer which was the conclusion made by the study leader, it’s a very scary prospect.

Do you find it necessary to vet what you consume, use or otherwise expose yourself to as a result?

My breast cancer has made me a more conscious consumer. I put more thought into what I eat and where it has come from. I’m really interested in nutrition and the health benefits it can bring and I follow a vegetarian diet.

In terms of skincare, I consider the ingredients of products before I buy them. I have a very simple skincare routine and I use natural products with as few ingredients as possible. Less is more in my opinion! 

Finally, would you share any advice you have for anyone who might find themselves in your situation? 

The best advice that I can offer is to take one day at a time. It sounds simple, but it can be crucial for your mental wellbeing.

And be kind to yourself.

Consider complementary therapies. Reflexology really helped me get through chemotherapy and it was something that I looked forward to every month.


Ruth teaches soap making classes in Cheshire, UK and is fully booked every time a new course opens up. Ruth is inspired by nature and believes that ‘going back to nature’ is the way forward.

Ruth also teaches a cosmetics business course and provides a consultancy service. She is energised by teaching subjects she is passionate about.

Ruth is also a Huffington Post blogger and a regular contributor to Making Soap Magazine

Are you in the UK and want to learn how to make gorgeous soaps like these? Sign up for Ruth’s soap making classes right here