Antiperspirants & Breast Cancer

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These days, it seems like anything can be blamed for causing cancer. Breast cancer is one of the scariest simply because it’s the most common – killing upwards of 40,000 women a year.

It would be a major relief if we could just find something to pin the blame on, allowing us to keep away from it forever. One supposed culprit that tops search results is the use of deodorants and antiperspirants. But is there really scientific evidence behind these claims? Here’s what experts do and don’t know.

To start off, here are some definite contributors to getting breast cancer.

  • Old age
  • A family history of breast cancer
  • Gene mutations
  • Exposure of breast tissue to estrogen made in the body
  • Hormone therapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol

But that doesn’t mean that the connection of antiperspirants and deodorants to breast cancer have always been a silly concern to dismiss. The weight of evidence, however, has been minimal, and there has been little to no thorough research of their effects on humans.

So where does the idea even come from?

A researcher named Philippa Darbre proposed that underarm cosmetics might contribute to cancer. A study was also published showing that more breast cancer occurred in the area closest to the armpit. SInce then, she has published countless papers based on lab studies that allegedly support her theory.

Another researcher who agrees with Darbre, pointed out that an increase in antiperspirant use directly affects the rise in breast and prostate cancers.

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The theory that deodorants/antiperspirants clog one’s pores with aluminium or parabens, leading to increased estrogen in the body.

Many studies have looked for evidence that parabens might contribute to cancer. The findings are largely inconclusive, but a select few have found evidence of a link in lab experiments, and one study even found increased levels of parabens in breast tumours.

The biggest and best study, however, involved 813 women with cancer and 793 women without. Women without cancer tended to use antiperspirant more regularly than those with cancer. The women without cancer were also more likely to use antiperspirant instead of deodorant. Therefore, no substantial link between deodorant/antiperspirant and breast cancer surfaced.

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Further research efforts would probably be best focused on environmental risk factors that haven’t yet been investigated or trying to unravel the genetic component of cancer, so that each person’s individual risk could be identified and calculated.

But in the whole scheme of things, when it comes the risk of developing breast cancer, there are more important things to worry about than what you use to stave off BO.

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