Is There a Link Between Antiperspirants and Breast Cancer?

      Controversial Issue Between Breast Cancer and Antiperspirant

Preventative healthcare is rapidly becoming the focus for many patients.   Patients want to know what they can do to prevent a disease, rather than simply treating the symptoms of a disorder once it develops.   There are many diseases influenced by specific parameters such as where a patient lives, gender, age, and socioeconomic status.  However, cancer is the one condition that indiscriminately affects patients.

The thrust of pro-active healthcare is triggering patients to ask questions about how they can avoid cancer.   Because researchers have not identified a prevailing cause of cancer, patients are left with uneasiness and want to take every step possible to avoid this formidable opponent.

Fundamentally people understand that diet, exercise, avoiding tobacco, and using sunscreen can help prevent cancers.  Nonetheless, patients are asking what additional steps can be done to help avoid this devastating disease.  According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that in 2015 there will be 1,658,370 newly diagnosed cancer cases and 589,430 cancer related deaths in the United States.  The top four primary cancer sites are: lung, breast, colorectal, and prostate (American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts).   

There is an escalating awareness of breast cancer; which could largely be contributed to media exposure from celebrities and sports teams.   Breast cancer diagnosis is rising and many women are alarmed by the number of lives it claims.   As a general rule, most people know to avoid toxic exposures that would increase their cancer risk.   The question becomes: is there something that I am consuming, breathing, or applying that is toxic and thereby increasing my risk of breast cancer?   

A quick search of the Internet will reveal a controversial issue over the link between breast cancer and the use of antiperspirant.  Antiperspirant is often found in deodorants.   Many people apply a deodorant containing an antiperspirant to their underarms during their morning dressing routine in hopes of avoiding embarrassing sweat rings on their shirts.  

The debate over a potential link between breast cancer and antiperspirant use hinges on the issue of whether the consistent use of the potentially toxic substances found in antiperspirant is absorbed through razor cuts in the skin and promotes breast cancer (Mercola).  The two primary toxins of concern are aluminum and parabens (National Cancer Institute).  The aluminum is a concern because it could plug the sweat pores and allow toxins to accumulate in the breast tissue (Mercola).   Parabens, which are used as a preservative, are implicated due to their ability to mimic estrogens. Estrogens are female hormones that cause breast cells, both normal and cancerous, to grow and divide (National Cancer Institute).  The National Cancer Institute has taken the stance that antiperspirants do not cause breast cancer and the American Cancer Society has even asserted that the study against antiperspirant was flawed (National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society, Antiperspirants).  

While the data is inconclusive, a patient who is concerned about breast cancer may want to evaluate the risk and potential alternative options.    

Works Cited

“Cancer Facts & Figures 2015.”  American Cancer Society.  2015 American Cancer Society,

Inc., 2015. Web. 22 July 2015.   

Mercola, Joseph.  “Are Aluminum-Containing Antiperspirants Contributing to Breast Cancer in

Women?”  Mercola.com. Dr. Joseph Mercola, 17 October 2011.  Web. 22 July 2015.

“Antiperspirants/Deodorants and Breast Cancer.”  National Cancer Institute.  U.S. Department

of Health and Human Services. 4 January 2008.  Web.  22 July 2015.

“Antiperspirants and Breast Cancer Risk The Claims.”  American Cancer Society.  14 October

2014.  American Cancer Society, Inc., 2015. Web. 22 July 2015.

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