It’s a topic that many women have heard about — the possible link between using deodorant/antiperspirant and breast cancer.
So do chemicals in many deodorants and antiperspirants really cause breast cancer? The short answer is we don’t know.
Upon doing some of our own research at the Korina headquarters, it appears it’s no coincidence that many of us have only heard about the rumor but haven’t heard the facts. That’s because the research is limited and inconclusive.
According to a database search performed by researchers at The Whiteley-Martin Research Centre & The University of Sydney, they found no evidence in the database that proved a direct link to certain deodorant and a possible link to breast cancer but did conclude this:
With only two primary studies that meet the inclusion criteria, more studies would be necessary to definitively exclude an association between deodorant use and breast cancer.
According to The National Cancer Institute, “…researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a part of the National Institutes of Health, are not aware of any conclusive evidence linking the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and the subsequent development of breast cancer.”
Not aware. I’ll be the first to say I am not aware of a lot of facts. And if only two detailed studies — that were inconclusive — have been conducted on the topic I’m still doubtful there isn’t a direct link to breast cancer and deodorants containing aluminum or parabens.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which regulates cosmetics, “believes that at the present time there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of cosmetics containing parabens. However, the agency will continue to evaluate new data in this area.”
I personally don’t feel very secure reading these statements by both NCI and FDA saying that there is no link to breast cancer and aluminum/parabens considering they both link to the only pair of studies conducted, which are more than a decade old. More research needs to be done to find conclusive evidence but the research found in these two studies makes me uneasy.
Below is shockingly sparse research on this issue that appears to possibly link breast cancer to antiperspirants/deodorants that contain either aluminum or parabens.
From a 2003 study by PD Dabre in the Journal of Applied Toxicology:
Although risk factors are known to include the loss of function of the susceptibility genes BRCA1/BRCA2 and lifetime exposure to oestrogen, the main causative agents in breast cancer remain unaccounted for. It has been suggested recently that underarm cosmetics might be a cause of breast cancer, because these cosmetics contain a variety of chemicals that are applied frequently to an area directly adjacent to the breast. The strongest supporting evidence comes from unexplained clinical observations showing a disproportionately high incidence of breast cancer in the upper outer quadrant of the breast, just the local area to which these cosmetics are applied. A biological basis for breast carcinogenesis could result from the ability of the various constituent chemicals to bind to DNA and to promote growth of the damaged cells. Multidisciplinary research is now needed to study the effect of long-term use of the constituent chemicals of underarm cosmetics, because if there proves to be any link between these cosmetics and breast cancer then there might be options for the prevention of breast cancer.
-Darbre PD., J Appl Toxicol. 2003 Mar-Apr;23(2):89-95. Review.
Here’s what a 2005 study by Darbre in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry states about the use of aluminum in antiperspirants and a possible link to breast cancer:
Aluminium salts are used as the active antiperspirant agent in underarm cosmetics, but the effects of widespread, long term and increasing use remain unknown, especially in relation to the breast, which is a local area of application. Clinical studies showing a disproportionately high incidence of breast cancer in the upper outer quadrant of the breast together with reports of genomic instability in outer quadrants of the breast provide supporting evidence for a role for locally applied cosmetic chemicals in the development of breast cancer. Aluminium is known to have a genotoxic profile, capable of causing both DNA alterations and epigenetic effects, and this would be consistent with a potential role in breast cancer if such effects occurred in breast cells. Oestrogen is a well established influence in breast cancer and its action, dependent on intracellular receptors which function as ligand-activated zinc finger transcription factors, suggests one possible point of interference from aluminium. Results reported here demonstrate that aluminium in the form of aluminium chloride or aluminium chlorhydrate can interfere with the function of oestrogen receptors of MCF7 human breast cancer cells both in terms of ligand binding and in terms of oestrogen-regulated reporter gene expression. This adds aluminium to the increasing list of metals capable of interfering with oestrogen action and termed metalloestrogens. Further studies are now needed to identify the molecular basis of this action, the longer term effects of aluminium exposure and whether aluminium can cause aberrations to other signalling pathways in breast cells. 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.
-Darbre PD. Aluminium, antiperspirants and breast cancer. Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry 2005; 99(9):1912–1919.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather stay on the safe side and not use parabens or aluminum to coat my underarms.
I think I’ll just stick with Korina natural deodorant.
Besides being free of possible carcinogenic ingredients, Korina Natural Deodorant really does work! It not only works for women but men and teens as well. Ask my husband or my niece.