Deodorant And Breast Cancer

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the link between deodorant and breast cancer

A discussion - mostly a negation - of the link between deodorants and the occurrence of breast cancer, as a response to alleged growing public concern over the issue.



There are reports that claim that the relationship between aluminium compounds present in antiperspirants and breast cancer is unfounded.[1] Many studies have shown that aluminium can be toxic but only if absorbed in very high concentrations, like with industrial exposure and inadequate workplace safety measures.

Aluminium salts found in deodorants are surprisingly hard to absorb. It was discovered that a minimal fraction (0.012%) of aluminum chlorohydrate, commonly found in antiperspirants, was absorbed, which is much less than what would be expected to be absorbed from the foods a person eats during the same time.[1] Therefore, patients would need to be exposed to an incredibly high level of aluminium in order to get toxic levels of this metal in their bodies.[2]

There is also more evidence against other theories related to the relationship between breast cancer and deodorant use. For instance, researchers found no real difference in the concentration of aluminium present in cancer and surrounding healthy breast tissue.[1] Another hypothesis about the association between breast cancer development and deodorants is made because cancer units advise women not to use deodorants containing aluminium salts before going for breast screening. This is not because aluminium salts are dangerous, but rather because they can obscure the results of screening tests which makes breast cancer harder to detect.[3]

There is also insufficient evidence to support the theory regarding claims that applying deodorants or antiperspirants after shaving will increase the risk of cancer. The American Cancer Society (ACS) states that the main risk related to using these products is skin irritation if a razor nick or cut is infected.[1]

Additionally, a recent Systematic Review did not reveal any possible association between deodorant/antiperspirant use and breast cancer risk, but still calls for new larger and stronger studies to clear up confusions about this controversial association.[4] Dr. Ted Gansler, M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H. director of medical content for the American Cancer Society, is also trying to reveal the truth from the myth affirming that many of the studies conducted on this topic were flawed, and claiming that "there is no convincing evidence that antiperspirant or deodorant use increases cancer risk".[1]


According to the US National Cancer Institute, it has been reported that parabens are found in breast tumors, but there is no definitive evidence that they cause breast cancer. Although parabens are used in many cosmetics, foods, and pharmaceutical products, most deodorants and antiperspirants in the United States do not currently contain parabens.[5]

As mentioned earlier, there is evidence pointing to parabens causing human breast cells to behave like breast cancer cells, by invading tissue, avoiding cell death, and suppressing the work of a drug commonly used to treat breast cancer, but there are hundreds of other environmental chemicals that are found in human breast tissue and that mimic naturally produced estrogen. Therefore, it’s hard to be sure that parabens alone can cause cancer.[3] In fact, most people are exposed to parabens and studies have found some form of paraben in the urine of up to 99% of people in the US.[6]

There is no solid evidence that underarm deodorants promote the development of breast cancer, despite in vitro evidence supporting the parabens hypothesis.[7] One explanation for this is that although parabens do mimic the activity of estrogen, they lack the potency to cause genetic mutation unless there is considerable exposure to the product.[8] The topical application and the low concentration of parabens in deodorant renders the paraben hypothesis less plausible in practice. The lack and quality of primary studies are the main weaknesses of this analysis. Hence, more studies would be necessary to definitively exclude an association between deodorant use and breast cancer.[7]

Darbre and Harvey reported that there was no difference in the current use of antiperspirant/deodorant products between breast cancer patients and non-affected matched controls. However, the study is limited by the lack of a nonuser population and of a discussion on the usage patterns in the past. By contrast, another study on the population of breast cancer patients reported that patients who used more antiperspirant products were diagnosed with breast cancer at an earlier age.[9] This study suggested a dose–response relationship to chemical exposure and sensitivity at a younger age, consistent with the patterns of breast cancer development, but it did not exclude other risk factors or consider the possibility that cosmetic use was simply higher in younger women.[10]

Consumer products containing parabens are required to list them as ingredients. Most parabens have names containing the word “paraben,” making them easy to find. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), most major brands of antiperspirants and deodorants do not currently contain parabens. The FDA will continue to evaluate new data in this area and if they determine that a health hazard exists, they will advise the industry and the public accordingly and will consider the agency’s legal options under the authority of the FD&C Act to protect the health and welfare of consumers.[11]


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