There are many rumors and misconceptions about antiperspirant and its connection with breast cancer. The contents of certain deodorants were alarming and caused concern as it was and still is believed that these contents are absorbed through the skin or that regular underarm shaving mixed with the use of deodorant was a problem.
There were articles suggesting that breast cancer was caused due to the toxins built up in the lymph glands. This however is an untrue statement as breast cancer starts in the breasts and then later spreads to the lymph glands.
There are No conclusive studies as to ascertain whether these substances are harmful or not. The National Cancer Institute is not aware of any studies done to connect antiperspirant to the increased risk of breast cancer.
Parabens are chemicals widely used as preservatives by pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies therefore we are constantly exposed to these parabens. They have been a cause for concern because they can be absorbed through the skin, have oestrogen properties and are found in breast cancer cells. It is also thought the parabens cause premature puberty in young girls. However there is no direct evidence of this as no studies have been conducted and the parabens in the breast cancer cells could be from another source entirely. If you are concerned look at the information on the product and it is usually is labelled as (E218), (E219),(E216) or (E209).
An active ingredient in antiperspirant is aluminium which reacts with electrolytes in the sweat glands and forms a plug on the surface of the skin. Breast cancer tissue does not contain more aluminium than normal tissue. A small study involving only 17 women was conducted in 2007 to evaluate the aluminium/ cancer connection but it was concluded that the findings of the study were not authoritative as it only involved such a small number of women. A study also confirmed that only 0.012% of aluminium is absorbed into the body due to antiperspirant use.
There is also the belief that underarm shaving also increases the risk of breast cancer when done in conjunction with use of deodorant. A study involving 813 women with breast cancer and 793 without breast cancer showed no link.
Women are told not to use any antiperspirant before having a mammogram and this is not due to any dangers associated with it but rather because the aluminium contained within the product interferes with the screening.
There may be no scientific evidence showing the link between antiperspirant and cancer but there also have not been enough studies conducted. There are also other harmful substances such as formaldehyde and triclosan. So if you are concerned, look for products that do not contain parabens or use natural alternatives. Baking soda can combat body odour by just applying it to your under arms. Citric acid found in lemons can also work. Rubbing alcohol and mixing it with an essential oil such as tea tree oil so it is not so astringent. You can look up making your own deodorant recipes online, there are a few to choose from.