A few studies in recent years have theorized that aluminum-based antiperspirants may increase the risk for breast cancer.
According to the authors of these studies, most breast cancers develop in the upper outer part of the breast -- the area closest to the armpit, which is where antiperspirants are applied. The studies suggest that chemicals in antiperspirants, including aluminum, are absorbed into the skin, particularly when the skin is nicked during shaving. These studies claim that those chemicals may then interact with DNA and lead to cancerous changes in cells, or interfere with the action of the female hormone estrogen, which is known to influence the growth of breast cancer cells.
Considering that one out of every eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in her lifetime, the idea that antiperspirants might somehow contribute to the disease is a pretty serious claim.
Yet experts say the claims don't hold up to scrutiny. "There is no convincing evidence that antiperspirant or deodorant use increases cancer risk," Ted S. Gansler, MD, MBA, director of medical content for the American Cancer Society, said in an e-mail interview.
Gansler says many of the studies that have been conducted were flawed, and even though a few detected chemicals from antiperspirants in breast tissue, they didn't prove that those chemicals had any effect on breast cancer risk. In fact, one well-designed study comparing hundreds of breast cancer survivors with healthy women, as well as a review of all available studies on the subject, found no evidence that antiperspirants increase the risk of breast cancer.
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