For years now both the media and the internet have speculated that underarm antiperspirants and deodorants can cause breast cancer. Many media reports suggest that these items contain harmful chemicals which can be absorbed through the skin.
In fact some scientists have speculated that some of the ingredients found in antiperspirants and deodorants may be related to breast cancer because they are frequently used in an area that is close to the breast tissue.
Are There Ingredients in Antiperspirants & Deodorants that Cause Cancer?
Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) are unaware of any conclusive evidence that supports the use of underarm products and the development of breast cancer.
Furthermore, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has found no evidence to suggest that ingredients in underarm antiperspirants or deodorants cause cancer. However questions remain unanswered leaving the public to ponder “What do we really know about the ingredients found in antiperspirants and deodorants?
Chemical Contents in Deodorants & Antiperspirants; Aluminum Based Compounds
Active ingredients found in antiperspirants include aluminum based compounds that temporary stop the flow of sweat through the sweat ducts to the skins surface.
Research has suggested that these aluminum compounds can be absorbed by the skin near the breast and may cause hormonal effects similar in nature to estrogen.
Since estrogen has the ability to encourage and promote the growth of cancer cells, experts have suggested that the aluminum compounds found in underarm products may contribute to the development of breast cancer.
Parabens Mimic Estrogen
Additional research concentrates on other preservatives used in antiperspirants and deodorants, specifically parabens which scientists have proven to increase the activity of estrogen.
Parabens are used in many products including cosmetics and pharmaceutical products but according to the FDA, almost all major brands of underarm antiperspirants and deodorants do not contain parabens.
In 2004 an independent study found parabens in 18 to 20 samples of tissue harvested from human breast tumors although the study did not analyze healthy breast tissue nor identify the source and could not conclusively establish that the buildup of parabens found in the tissue resulted from the use of underarm products.
Parabens in Breast Tissue
Researchers and scientists agree that more research is needed to prove whether the use of antiperspirants and deodorants can cause an unnatural buildup of aluminum based compounds and parabens in the breast tissue.
Research is also needed to determine whether or not these chemicals are responsible for either changing the DNA within the cells or causing changes in the breast cells that may lead to breast cancer.
Cancer Risk of Shaving & Using Underarm Deodorants at an Early Age
What do we know regarding the relationship between underarm products and breast cancer? The results of a study looking for the correlation between underarm antiperspirants/deodorant and cancer did not show an increase in risk factors associated with women who reported using these products.
The results of the study further indicate that there was no increased breast cancer risk in women who shaved and then applied underarm antiperspirant or deodorant.
Yet findings from a different study found that the age of breast cancer was significantly earlier in women who used antiperspirants before sixteen years of age and were diagnosed with breast cancer at an earlier age than those who developed these hygiene habits at a later age.
The findings also suggest that while underarm shaving combined with the use of antiperspirants and deodorants may be related to breast cancer, it in no way proves that there is an irrefutable link between breast cancer and underarm shaving habits.
Early Detection & Prevention of Breast Cancer Via Mammograms & Ultrasounds in Stockbridge, Conyers & Athens Georgia
The bottom line: studies of both the use of antiperspirants & deodorants products on a daily basis or when combined with underarm hygiene practices such as shaving have both proven to provide some conflicting reports.
All agree that additional research will be needed to firmly establish or refute a relationship between the use of underarm products and breast cancer. Women’s Imaging Specialists can’t stress the importance of early detection enough. Mammograms save lives! To schedule your next mammogram, contact Women’s Imaging Specialists today!
About the author: Raja P. Reddy, MD is a board certified diagnostic radiologist specializing in breast imaging. He is also a contributing editor for Women’s Imaging Specialists, a leading provider of outpatient women’s imaging services in the greater Atlanta, GA area.
Women’s Imaging Specialists offers Mammograms and Ultrasounds at locations in Athens, GA; Cumming, GA; Dublin, GA; Eagles Landing, GA; Fairhope, AL; Gulf Shores, Al; Gwinnett, GA; Monroe, GA; and Warner Robins, GA.