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Antiperspirants And Breast Cancer: Old Myth Sees New Life On Facebook

1015 words - 5 pages

Once again, the story is floating around Facebook that the using antiperspirants cause breast cancer. The claim states that cancer causing chemicals in the products enter the body through tiny nicks in the skin, thereby infecting the lymph nodes surrounding the breast tissue. The latest says to wash the underarm with soap and water before going to bed.
According to the Facebook post, deodorants are fine; however, using antiperspirants is what increases the potential for breast cancer. It claims that most breast cancers start in the upper quadrants of the breast in the lymph nodes nearest to the armpit, because that's where toxins from the antiperspirants congregate.

The Facebook floater also suggests that the reason women are more susceptible to breast cancer than men is because men have hair under their arms and women do not. This means the antiperspirants applied to a man's underarm stick to the hair, because a woman applies it directly to her skin. It further warns that antiperspirants inhibit the body's ability to release toxins.

The theory that antiperspirants cause breast cancer in women is by no means new; variations of the story have been floating around since 1999. However, according to agencies like the American Cancer Society, these claims are unsubstantiated. This does not stop the "research" from resurfacing, though, leaving many women wondering if the products are safe; especially now with the constant influx of new research regarding cancer causing elements in items households use daily.

The clamor around antiperspirants usually centers around two ingredients - parabens and aluminum.


Parabens are preservatives. The reason they became controversial is they can act like estrogen inside the body, and overexposure to estrogen is linked to breast cancer. A recent study showed parabens in 99% of cancerous breast tissue taken from women who had mastectomies. Does this show definitive proof of antiperspirants use causing breast cancer? Not exactly; many of the women didn't use underarm products.

The fact is just about everyone has parabens in his or her body because they are used in all sorts of products. Most shampoos, body lotions, and cosmetics contain some form of paraben. Not all studies agree about the effect parabens have on the human body, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada have ruled them safe at current exposure levels.

Since not everyone finds a ruling by a government agency comforting, many paraben-free products are now available, including deodorants. They may just have to be kept in the refrigerator.


Aluminum is the active antiperspirant is antiperspirants, which, combined with deodorant, keeps one smelling fresh and clean. The question stems from whether aluminum is absorbed into the body, and does this absorption lead to cancer. Again, nothing definitive from the scientific front, but the concerns have largely been dismissed based on the reasoning that a person's body...

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