Worried Deodorant Causes Cancer Here Are The Facts
Because swiping on deodorant shouldnt give you a stress headache
Whisperings about the potential harm of aluminum in deodorant have been getting louder for years, but theyre reaching fever pitch now that natural deodorants are getting better and major personal care companies are launching products that are aluminum-free to address consumer demand. P& G has just released a new Secret aluminum-free deodorant, and Unilever launched a Dove version in the United States earlier this year, though has yet to extend that offering to Canada. But with plenty of conflicting information out there and more product choices than ever, it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to deodorant. We spoke to Dr. Renée Beach, dermatologist at Womens College Hospital in Toronto, to learn more about the effects of aluminum, both in our deodorants and to our health in general.
What Other Ways Can I Prevent Cancer And Disease
Often, fears surrounding deodorant are tied to legitimate fears of getting a scary diagnosis. There are plenty of ways to try to maintain your health, like eating a healthy diet, exercising and reducing your alcohol consumption. “The same woman that may be obsessing about her deodorant might be having three glasses of wine at night, not knowing that wine is a proven carcinogen,” says Dr. Comen. It’s also helpful to know your family history, and talk to your doctor about how to make healthy choices based on your personal risk factors.
Do Antiperspirants Increase A Person’s Risk Of Breast Cancer
There are no strong epidemiologic studies in the medical literature that link breast cancer risk and antiperspirant use, and very little scientific evidence to support this claim.
In fact, a carefully designed epidemiologic study of this issue published in 2002 compared 813 women with breast cancer and 793 women without the disease. The researchers found no link between breast cancer risk and antiperspirant use, deodorant use, or underarm shaving.
A study published in 2003 looked at responses from questionnaires sent out to women who had breast cancer. The researcher reported that women who were diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age said they used antiperspirant and started shaving their underarms earlier and shaved more often than women who were diagnosed when they were older. But the study design did not include a control group of women without breast cancer and has been criticized by experts as not relevant to the safety of these underarm hygiene practices.
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Can Deodorants And Antiperspirants With Aluminium Cause Cancer
Is this something we should be concerned about or is it just a myth?”
There is no evidence to support the claim that deodorants or antiperspirants cause cancer. This link was first suggested in an email hoax, and rumours have circulated ever since. Typically, scare stories suggest that aluminium in antiperspirants prevents us from getting rid of toxins in our sweat, which clog up lymph nodes and lead to breast cancer. But the details of this are wrong.
First, sweating does help your body get rid of toxins. Second, breast cancer starts in the breast and spreads to the lymph nodes, not the other way around. Third, there is no evidence that aluminium can lead to cancer. Some reports occasionally claim to have found aluminium, or other deodorant chemicals, in samples taken from breast tumours. But they usually involve a very small number of women, and they never compare levels of aluminium in the tumours to levels in other parts of the body, or to women who dont have breast cancer. Without this information, these reports tell us nothing about deodorants and breast cancer risk. On the other hand, one study looked at 1600 women and found that those who use deodorant are no more likely to develop cancer than women who dont.
The Role Of Antiperspirant In Causing Breast Cancer Is Not Proven
The main cause of breast cancer is the use of antiperspirant.
Cancer Research UK says that at present theres no convincing evidence that using deodorants or antiperspirants affects breast cancer risk.
What was claimed
Men are less likely to develop breast cancer because antiperspirant deodorant is applied to the hair rather than directly on to the skin.
Men are less likely to develop breast cancer due to differences in the amount and type of breast tissue in men. There are also important hormonal differences between men and women which relate to this.
A widely shared post makes a number of false or unevidenced claims about the link between breast cancer and the use of antiperspirant deodorant.
Cancer Research UK told Full Fact that there was no convincing evidence to support the claim that breast cancer and antiperspirant deodorant use are linked.
Using antiperspirant deodorant is not the main cause of breast cancer
The main claim in the Facebook post is that antiperspirant deodorant is the main cause of breast cancer. This isnt true.
Since as early as 2002 , theories have circulated which link breast cancer to antiperspirant deodorants that contain aluminium. This has been linked to anincrease in the percentage of breast cancers occurring in an area known as the upper outer quadrant of the breast, near the armpit. As a result, scientists and epidemiologists began to consider whether a lifestyle factor may be the cause.
Is The Antiperspirant And Breast Cancer Link Just An Internet Myth Created By Confused People
The potential link between breast cancer and aluminum antiperspirant may have started out as one of those “pass it along” emails in the late 90s, but the aluminum-breast cancer link has actually been studied for a number of years now. The first published study regarding antiperspirant use and breast cancer risk was in 2002, a population-based study that actually found no correlation between breast cancer and antiperspirant use. However, the next year, a researchers found that earlier and more frequent antiperspirant use did correlate with earlier breast cancer diagnoses, suggesting that aluminum may have been to blame. One thing they did not apparently discuss, however, was that perhaps women who used deodorants earlier in life had been exposed to estrogen for a longer period of their lifespan. The earlier the need for deodorant arose, the earlier puberty and its resulting hormones would have been, and thus higher risk for reproductive cancers. So, that study wasn’t able to show direct causation.
“We now know that transdermal uptake of aluminum is not only possible, but may also be important. I am now concerned that we are guilty of being complacent about exposure to aluminum.”
Antiperspirants intended action, obstruction of axillary apocrine sweat glands, could create a reservoir of hormones in an optimal environment for transdermal absorption. Long term inadvertent and unintended systemic hormonal exposure to developing breast and prostate tissue may occur.
Aluminum In Deodorant: Do You Need To Be Worried
Worried that your deodorant could cause breast cancer? We looked into the science.
Disclaimer: Just so you know, if you order an item through one of our posts, we may get a small share of the sale.
You might have heard about the link between aluminum in deodorant and breast cancer. It makes for a terrifying headlineafter all, more than 90 percent of Americans use some form of underarm deodorant or antiperspirant, and we count our fresh-smelling selves among that number. If theres something dangerous lurking in our stick of Secret, wed certainly want to know about it. We looked into the science surrounding the proposed link between aluminum and breast cancer, and we found some conflicting information. Before you throw out your deodorant, heres what you need to know.
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Claims Linking Breast Cancer And Antiperspirants
You may have heard the claim that antiperspirant use can cause breast cancer. It is believed that the chemicals in antiperspirants can enter the body through tiny razor cuts from shaving. The chemicals could then deposit in the lymph nodes. When an antiperspirant keeps an individual from perspiring, its thought that the chemical toxins could build up and lead to the development of cancer in the breast.
According to the American Cancer Society, there is no strong evidence linking breast cancer to antiperspirant use. The ingredients from antiperspirants most likely do not reach the lymph nodes, and a lack of sweating would not trap toxins inside our bodies.
But What About Parabens
Of course, unlike the case among antivaccinationists, where aluminum fears supplanted mercury fears, in terms of breast cancer aluminum fear mongering is old school. New school is parabens. Parabens are hip. Theyre now. Theyre happening. In fairness, on the surface, there appears to be more of a reason to suspect them as potentially contributing to breast cancer than there is to suspect aluminum-containing antiperspirants. Thats not saying that theres a compelling reason to suspect them, only that there is a modicum of plausibility. Parabens is a term used to describe a series of parahydroxybenzoates or esters of parahydroxybenzoic acid , chemicals most commonly used as preservatives by the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries because of their bactericidal and fungicidal properties. Theyre found in a variety of products including shampoos, commercial moisturizers, shaving gels, personal lubricants, topical/parenteral pharmaceuticals, spray tanning solution, makeup, and toothpaste. Most major brands of antiperspirant are paraben-free these days, but that doesnt stop them from being examined as a cause of breast cancer. Typical of such articles is one byyou guessed it!Joe Mercola entitled Parabens: 99% of Breast Cancer Tissue Contained This Everyday Chemical :
So, it would seem, we have a chemical that is widely used as well as a seemingly plausible mechanism to cause breast cancer. Theres a problem, though. As Schwarcz, who is a chemist, also pointed out:
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Should I Be Concerned About Parabens
Parabens are chemicals used as preservatives and as food additives. They can be found in many types of make-up and skin care products . Parabens can be absorbed through the skin.
Intake of parabens is a possible concern because studies have shown that parabens have weak estrogen-like properties. Estrogen is a female hormone known to cause breast cells to grow and divide. And some conditions that increase the body’s exposure to estrogen have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
In 2004, a small study found traces of parabens in some samples of breast cancer tumors. But there are some important points about the study findings:
- The researchers looked only for the presence of parabens in breast cancer samples. The study did not show that parabens caused or contributed to breast cancer development in these cases it only showed that they were there. What this meant is not yet clear.
- Although parabens have weak estrogen-like properties, the estrogens that are made in the body are hundreds to many thousands of times stronger. So, natural estrogens are much more likely to play a role in breast cancer development.
- Parabens are widely used as preservatives in shampoo, lotions, other cosmetics, and even foods. This study did not contain any information to help find the source of the parabens found in the breast tissue it’s not clear if they might have come from antiperspirants or from some other source.
Antiperspirants And Alzheimers Disease
Back in the 1960s, a few studies found high levels of aluminum in the brains of people with Alzheimers disease. The research suddenly called into question the safety of everyday household items such as aluminum cans, antacids, and antiperspirants.
But the findings of these early studies werenât replicated in later research, and experts have essentially ruled out aluminum as a possible cause of Alzheimers.
There was a lot of research that looked at the link between Alzheimers and aluminum, and there hasnt been any definitive evidence to suggest there is a link, says Heather M. Snyder, PhD, senior associate director of medical and scientific relations for the Alzheimers Association.
According to the experts interviewed for this story, the aluminum in antiperspirants doesnt even typically make its way into the body.
The aluminum salts do not work as antiperspirants by being absorbed in the body. They work by forming a chemical reaction with the water in the sweat to form a physical plug which is deposited in the sweat duct, producing a blockage in the areas that its applied, says David Pariser, MD, professor of dermatology at Eastern Virginia Medical School and past president of the American Academy of Dermatology. Even nicks from shaving, the amount is so negligible that it doesnt make a whole lot of scientific sense.
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Antiperspirants And Alzheimer’s Disease
Back in the 1960s, a few studies found high levels of aluminum in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. The research suddenly called into question the safety of everyday household items such as aluminum cans, antacids, and antiperspirants.
But the findings of these early studies werenât replicated in later research, and experts have essentially ruled out aluminum as a possible cause of Alzheimer’s.
“There was a lot of research that looked at the link between Alzheimer’s and aluminum, and there hasn’t been any definitive evidence to suggest there is a link,” says Heather M. Snyder, PhD, senior associate director of medical and scientific relations for the Alzheimer’s Association.
According to the experts interviewed for this story, the aluminum in antiperspirants doesn’t even typically make its way into the body.
“The aluminum salts do not work as antiperspirants by being absorbed in the body. They work by forming a chemical reaction with the water in the sweat to form a physical plug… which is deposited in the sweat duct, producing a blockage in the areas that it’s applied,” says David Pariser, MD, professor of dermatology at Eastern Virginia Medical School and past president of the American Academy of Dermatology. “Even nicks from shaving, the amount is so negligible that it doesn’t make a whole lot of scientific sense.”
Antiperspirants Kidney Disease And Dementia
Dialysis patients suffering from kidney disease raised concerns surrounding the effects of aluminum after doctors discovered large amounts in their system resulting from a prescription drug. Because of their kidney disease, their bodies were unable to remove the aluminum fast enough, causing it to build up in their bodies. Researchers found these patients were more likely to develop dementia, causing manufacturers to post a warning on antiperspirants for those with kidneys functioning at less than 30%. Because the quantity of aluminum present in deodorants is small, your body will not absorb enough through the skin to cause kidney issues.
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Antiperspirants Aluminum And Breast Cancer
Some women are concerned that aluminum causes breast cancer, and aluminums are the primary active ingredients in antiperspirants. The concern stems from the way aluminum compounds can influence estrogenA female sex hormone that is primarily produced by the ovaries. Its primary function is to regulate the menstrual cycle and assist in the production of secondary sex characteristics such as breasts. It may even play a role in the production of cancer cells in the breast tissue. receptors in our breast cells, and levels in the body.
The Best Evidence For A Link Is Not So Good
To me, the poor quality of evidence cited to support such a link between antiperspirants tends to be epitomized by an article that was being touted a few years back by Sharyl Attkisson. At the time, she was touting an article by Dr. Kris McGrath in Medical Hypotheses, whose speculative nature and lack of peer review has been discussed elsewhere. Ill start with this evidence and then work my way up to the best evidence cited by proponents of an antiperspirant-breast cancer link.
Of course, implausible doesnt mean impossible, and McGraths concept, although quite implausible biologically, is not as implausible as, say, homeopathy or reiki. However, because of its implausibility, it would take some pretty compelling evidence to make us as scientists reconsider our understanding of the biology. So does McGrath have compelling evidence or even highly suggestive evidence? Let this graph from his Medical Hypotheses paper speak for itself:
Its very similar to this figure from the previous paper:
OK, what else do we have?
Well, Joe Mercola referenced a couple of studies in his little bit of viral breast cancer fear mongering. Specifically, if you believe Mercola, its supposed to be the aluminum:
In other words, the study tells us absolutely nothing about whether or not aluminum-containing antiperspirants contribute to breast cancer risk.
Mercolas next red herring is this:
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No You Shouldnt Worry About Aluminum In Your Antiperspirant
Over the past few years, you may have heard growing concern over the existence of aluminum in antiperspirants and its possible links to cancer. Amid the fears and rumors, antiperspirant brands from boutique to big-name have begun to tout their aluminum-free offerings.
But should you worry?
As a dermatologist who frequently recommends aluminum-containing antiperspirants to my patients, I say, emphatically, no.
The claim that aluminum-containing antiperspirants cause cancer is a myth that has been debunked in the minds of doctors and scientists, and so its time to put lingering doubts for consumers to rest.
Lets walk through how antiperspirants work, how this rumor got started and why this is one issue you shouldnt sweat.
Does Deodorant Cause Breast Cancer Heres What We Know
Weve seen the headlines and have heard the rumors, but what are the facts when it comes to the connection of deodorant and antiperspirant to breast cancer? Should you be concerned? And if there is no connection to deodorant/antiperspirant and breast cancer, how did this myth get started?
In the early 90s, a false news story began circulating on the internet claiming that the everyday use of deodorant/antiperspirant leads to breast cancer. This claim continues to cause concern over the safety of deodorant/antiperspirant
Another long-standing concern has to do with the role of shaving and absorption of antiperspirant into the skin. Aluminum compounds found in antiperspirants can be absorbed through your skin through a nick or cut caused from shaving. The theory goes that after a period of time, these compounds continue to accumulate in the lymph nodes of your underarm, interacting with your DNA and eventually developing into cancerous cells.
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