There is no robust scientific evidence to suggest the chemicals, called parabens, have any effect on breast cancer risk whatsoever.

The article drew upon a small study from the University of Reading and the University Hospital of South Manchester.

The letter was co-signed by Chris Askew, Chief Executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, and the CEOs of Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Campaign.

The letter reads as follows:

"Following the publication of your article Breast cancer ‘risk’ all over shops’ shelves (Thursday 12 January 2012), we, as breast cancer charities, are very concerned that the report may cause unnecessary alarm among women.

Despite what your article and headline suggest, there is currently no convincing scientific evidence that parabens affect breast cancer risk. This research has serious flaws and provides no proof to suggest that women should be concerned about parabens.

For example, the research didn’t show where the parabens came from and they didn’t compare levels of parabens in the breast with levels in other parts of the body or in women without breast cancer. In addition, the research involved a very small sample size of 40 women.

Despite the fact that Professor Sharpe comments: “The study does not address whether parabens contribute to risk of breast cancer,” we feel by the nature of the rest of the article the damage to concerned women will already have been done.

As charities we are committed to ensuring people have access to accurate, evidence-based information on their risk factors for breast cancer so that they can make informed lifestyle choices."