The subject of antiperspirants and deodorants and breast cancer is a little confusing, to say the least. There were some Internet rumors that started around 1999 that antiperspirants cause breast cancer and that you should stop using those products immediately. This caused a stir in the scientific community and the public wanted to know first: is this true? When the scientific community said they just plain “didn’t know,” the public pressured for studies to be done. But the studies done were not “done” very well, and usually funded by companies that had a hand in the billion dollar antiperspirant industry. This lead to conflicting results. Here are the facts…you make your decision.
A very interesting study done in 2005 by P.D. Darbre in the Journal of Inorganic Chemistry shows a very definite danger in the absorption of aluminum through the skin in that the aluminum had estrogen-like properties. Alterations in hormones, like estrogen, have been shown to play a major part in breast cancer tumor proliferation. This study showed that the absorption of aluminum through the skin has a direct effect on estrogen receptors. Since the majority of breast cancer tumors are located on the outer edge of the breast, near the armpit, the theory that an under arm product could be the cause is not that far-fetched.
The author’s words are strong: Given the wide exposure of the human population to antiperspirants, it will be important to establish dermal absorption in the local area of the breast and whether long term low level absorption could play a role in the increasing incidence of breast cancer.
The reason chemical companies put aluminum in antiperspirants is to “dry out sweat by injecting aluminum ions in the cells that line the sweat ducts. When the aluminum ions are drawn into the cells, water flows in; the cells begin to swell, squeezing the ducts closed so sweat cannot get out,” according to the Julie Gabriel, The Green Beauty Guide. Preventing sweat from exiting my body doesn’t seem like a good idea, considering humans sweat for a reason. Sweating actually has a lot of benefits – clearer skin, lowers body temperature and fights off sickness – so why would I want to prevent my body doing what it needs to do to stay healthy? (Food Babe, 2013)
The choice is yours to make. If this article speaks to you, then the bottom line is: avoid PARABENS and ALUMINUM ZIRCONIUM in your deodorant whenever possible! Breast cancer prevention is not only in the products that we use, but it is important to check yourself every month, eat right, exercise and control your stress level.
Want to know if your deodorant passes the test? Search yours by brand at the Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” Cosmetics Database
Darbre, P.D. (2005). Aluminium, antiperspirants and breast cancer. J Inorg Biochem. Sep;99(9):1912-9.