Can antiperspirants or deodorants cause breast cancer?
Antiperspirant is a roll-on that reduces underarm sweat while deodorants destroys or covers unpleasant odors. Now, several reports have suggested that antiperspirants and deodorants can cause breast cancer. The reports have suggested that these products contain unsafe ingredients which can enter the body through skin or through scratches caused by shaving. Some researchers have also projected that certain ingredients in antiperspirants or deodorants may be related to breast cancer because they are applied frequently to an area next to the breast.
However, researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a part of the National Institutes of Health, are not found any convincing evidence connecting the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and the subsequent development of breast cancer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), also does not have any evidence or research data that ingredients contained in underarm antiperspirants or deodorants cause cancer.
What do scientists know about the ingredients in antiperspirants and deodorants?
Active ingredient in antiperspirants are aluminum-based compounds. These compounds form a transitory plug within the sweat duct that stops the flow of sweat to the surface of the skin. Some study suggests that aluminum-based compounds, which are applied frequently and left on the skin near the breast, may be absorbed by the skin and cause estrogen-like (hormonal) effects. This is because estrogen has the ability to promote the growth of breast cancer cells, thereby making some scientists believe that the aluminum-based compounds in antiperspirants may contribute to the development of breast cancer.
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For deodorants, some research has focused on parabens, which are preservatives used in producing some deodorants and antiperspirants that have been shown to copy the activity of estrogen in the cells of the body. Although parabens are used in many cosmetic, food, and pharmaceutical products, most major brands of deodorants and antiperspirants in the United States do not currently contain parabens, according to the FDA. Consumers can look at the ingredient label to decide if a deodorant or antiperspirant contains parabens. Parabens are usually easy to identify by name, such as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, or benzylparaben.
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A 2004 research suggested that parabens build up in breast tissue, which found parabens in 18 of 20 samples of tissue from human breast tumors. However, this study did not prove that parabens cause breast tumors. The researchers did not examine healthy breast tissue or tissues from other areas of the body and did not validate that parabens are found only in cancerous breast tissue.
Also, this research did not identify the source of the parabens and cannot establish that the accumulation of parabens is as a result of the use of deodorants or antiperspirants.
More research is required to precisely examine whether the use of deodorants or antiperspirants can cause the buildup of parabens and aluminum-based compounds in breast tissue. More research is also required to establish whether these chemicals can either change the DNA in some cells or cause other breast cell changes that may cause the development of breast cancer.
Relationship between antiperspirant/deodorant and breast cancer from researchers view
The results of a research looking for a relationship between breast cancer and underarm antiperspirants/deodorants were reported in 2002. This study did not show any increased risk for breast cancer in women who reported using an underarm antiperspirant or deodorant. The results also indicated no increased breast cancer risk for women who reported using a blade and an underarm antiperspirant or deodorant, or for women who reported using an underarm antiperspirant or deodorant within 1 hour of shaving with a blade razor. These deductions were based on interviews with 813 women with breast cancer and 793 women with no history of breast cancer.
Results from a different study examining the frequency of underarm shaving and antiperspirant/deodorant use among 437 breast cancer survivors were released in 2003. This study discovered that the age of breast cancer diagnosis was expressively earlier in women who used these products and shaved their underarms more often. Furthermore, women who began both of these underarm hygiene habits before 16 years of age were diagnosed with breast cancer at an earlier age than those who began these habits later. While these results suggest that underarm shaving with the use of antiperspirants/deodorants may be related to breast cancer, it does not demonstrate a convincing link between these underarm hygiene habits and breast cancer.
Furthermore, in 2006, researchers examined antiperspirant use and other factors among 54 women with breast cancer and 50 women without breast cancer. The result showed no link between antiperspirant use and the risk of breast cancer. Family history and the use of oral contraceptives were related with an increased risk of breast cancer.