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IUPAC name
Methyl 4-hydroxybenzoate
Other names
Methyl paraben;
Methyl p-hydroxybenzoate;
Methyl parahydroxybenzoate;
Nipagin M;
E number E218; Tegosept; Mycocten
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.002.532
E number E218 (preservatives)
Molar mass 152.15 g·mol−1
Appearance Colorless crystals or white crystalline powder [1]
UV-vismax) 255 nm (methanol)
-88.7·10−6 cm3/mol
NFPA 704
Flammability code 1: Must be pre-heated before ignition can occur. Flash point over 93 °C (200 °F). E.g., canola oilHealth code 1: Exposure would cause irritation but only minor residual injury. E.g., turpentineReactivity code 0: Normally stable, even under fire exposure conditions, and is not reactive with water. E.g., liquid nitrogenSpecial hazards (white): no codeNFPA 704 four-colored diamond
Related compounds
Related Parabens
Related compounds
Methyl salicylate (ortho isomer)
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Infobox references
UV-visible spectrum of methylparaben

Methylparaben, also methyl paraben, one of the parabens, is a preservative with the chemical formula CH3(C6H4(OH)COO). It is the methyl ester of p-hydroxybenzoic acid.

Natural occurrences[edit]

Methylparaben serves as a pheromone for a variety of insects[2] and is a component of queen mandibular pheromone.


Methylparaben is an anti-fungal agent often used in a variety of cosmetics and personal-care products. It is also used as a food preservative and has the E number E218.

Methylparaben is commonly used as a fungicide in Drosophila food media. To Drosophila, methylparaben is toxic at higher concentrations, has an estrogenic effect (mimicking estrogen in rats and having anti-androgenic activity), and slows the growth rate in the larval and pupal stages at lower concentrations.[3][4]


There is controversy about whether methylparaben or propylparabens are harmful at concentrations typically used in body care or cosmetics. Methylparaben and propylparaben are considered generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the USFDA for food and cosmetic antibacterial preservation.[5] Methylparaben is readily metabolized by common soil bacteria, making it completely biodegradable.

Methylparaben is readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract or through the skin.[6] It is hydrolyzed to p-hydroxybenzoic acid and rapidly excreted in urine without accumulating in the body.[6] Acute toxicity studies have shown that methylparaben is practically non-toxic by both oral and parenteral administration in animals.[6] In a population with normal skin, methylparaben is practically non-irritating and non-sensitizing; however, allergic reactions to ingested parabens have been reported.[6]

Studies indicate that methylparaben applied on the skin may react with UVB, leading to increased skin aging and DNA damage.[7][8]


  1. ^ "Methylparaben Experimental Properties". PubChem.
  2. ^ "Semiochemical - me-4-hydroxybenzoate".
  3. ^ Gu W, Xie DJ, Hour XW (2009). "Toxicity and Estrogen Effects of Methyl Paraben on Drosophila melanogaster". Food Science. 30 (1): 252–254.
  4. ^ Sun L, Yu T, Guo J, Zhang Z, Hu Y, Xiao X, Sun Y, Xiao H, Li J, Zhu D, Sai L, Li J (April 2016). "The estrogenicity of methylparaben and ethylparaben at doses close to the acceptable daily intake in immature Sprague-Dawley rats". Scientific Reports. 6: 25173. doi:10.1038/srep25173. PMC 4848538. PMID 27121550.
  5. ^ "Parabens". Food and Drug Administration.
  6. ^ a b c d Soni MG, Taylor SL, Greenberg NA, Burdock GA (October 2002). "Evaluation of the health aspects of methyl paraben: a review of the published literature". Food and Chemical Toxicology. 40 (10): 1335–73. doi:10.1016/S0278-6915(02)00107-2. PMID 12387298.
  7. ^ Handa O, Kokura S, Adachi S, Takagi T, Naito Y, Tanigawa T, Yoshida N, Yoshikawa T (October 2006). "Methylparaben potentiates UV-induced damage of skin keratinocytes". Toxicology. 227 (1–2): 62–72. doi:10.1016/j.tox.2006.07.018. PMID 16938376.
  8. ^ Okamoto Y, Hayashi T, Matsunami S, Ueda K, Kojima N (August 2008). "Combined activation of methyl paraben by light irradiation and esterase metabolism toward oxidative DNA damage". Chemical Research in Toxicology. 21 (8): 1594–9. doi:10.1021/tx800066u. PMID 18656963.

External links[edit]

  • Methylparaben at Hazardous Substances Data Bank
  • Methylparaben at Household Products Database
  • European Commission Scientific Committee on Consumer Products Extended Opinion on the Safety Evaluation of Parabens (2005) [1]