Cancer researcher Philippa Darbre, PhD, of the University of Reading in England, has said that a strong link exists between the use of deodorants or antiperspirants and breast cancer. She says that he aluminum-based active ingredient used in these products mimics estrogen in the body.
"Lifetime exposure to estrogen is the risk factor which is tied most strongly to breast cancer," Darbre said. "If the aluminum salts in antiperspirants enter the body and mimic estrogen it stands to reason that constant exposure over many years may pose a risk." Aluminum salts are the active ingredients in most deodorants and represent the single biggest exposure of the body to this metal. Darbre stresses that her research shows that aluminum acts as a trigger for increased estrogen activity, a major risk for breast cancer. "If a product is labeled antiperspirant it probably contains aluminum salts," she said. "I stopped using these products eight years ago, and now I wonder why I ever bothered. Soap and water and maybe a little talcum powder seem to do the job nicely." She added that the same effect could be observed by the introduction of cadmium into the body via cigarette smoke, "Each of these agents on their own may not have a powerful effect but we need to see what happens when a number of them act together - it could be that this would have a significant effect on diseases like breast cancer." The details of the study are published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology. However, Liz Carroll, head of clinical services at charity Breast Cancer Care said, "Studies to date have found no proven link between the use of deodorants and the risk of developing breast cancer. More research is needed to enable people to make a more informed decision about deodorant use."