For years, there have been supposed links between the use of underarm deodorants and antiperspirants to the development of breast cancer in women. The claims are based on the fact that deodorants and antiperspirants contain parabens, which are chemicals used to increase the shelf life and fight the growth of microbial bacteria on product surfaces. Samples of cancerous breast tissues have often been found to contain traces of parabens.
Parabens contain a weak estrogen-like property, that have prompted some to link them to breast cancer. Estrogen is the female hormone that causes breast cells (both normal and cancerous) to grow and divide.
The theory behind these claims is rooted in the armpits’ proximity to the breast. The majority of cancerous tissue is found in the outer-quadrant of the breast, which makes the connection between the use of such products and the development of breast cancer feasible.
In addition, proponents of the link between the two point out that antiperspirants, in particular, may contribute to cancer because the aluminum it contains acts to blocks sweat glands. They say the aluminum compounds are likely absorbed by the skin, resulting in changes in estrogen receptors in breast cells that increase the risk of cancer.
Both of these theories, however, have been proven inconclusive in regards to their connection to breast cancer risk. Both the scientific community at large, and the American Cancer Society claim that there is no connection between deodorants, antiperspirants and an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Numerous studies have confirmed that there is no strong evidence linking them.
Although parabens have been found in numerous breast cancer studies, the fact is that parabens are found in numerous popular products. They are used in soaps, creams, sun block, cosmetics and even some foods. Therefore, it’s possible the traces of parabens found in breast cancer tissue can come from any number of sources, not just antiperspirants and deodorants.
It’s also important to note that there has never been any evidence that parabens do, in fact, cause or contribute to the development of cancerous cells.
Parabens are very commonly found in most individuals. One study showed that 99% of American adults had traces of parabens in their urine, so there is no evidence that there presence directly leads to cancer.
Numerous studies in the past decade have confirmed that products like deodorant and antiperspirant do not have a direct impact on someone’s susceptibility to cancer.
The parabens do contribute to increased estrogen levels, but findings suggest the amount is quite small. Studies have confirmed that the estrogen-like properties found in parabens are far weaker than naturally-produced estrogen, essentially making any impact on the body very minor, at most.
Doctors tend to suggest that breast cancer, and many other forms of the disease, are the result of a combination of factors ranging from genetics to environment to the foods people consume.