What's the link between deodorant & breast cancer

October 5, 2015

Many people claim there's a link between deodorant and breast cancer. Could your roll-on stick be harming you? Let's sniff out the truth.

What's the link between deodorant & breast cancer

What is the reasoning behind the myth?

  • Despite what you may have heard from your neighbour, there's no solid evidence to back up the rumour that deodorant causes breast cancer.
  • Several scientists have raised the possibility that using deodorant and other cosmetics may expose women to cancer-causing chemicals known as carcinogens.

How did the rumour start?

  • One study found that women with breast cancer who used deodorant and shaved their underarms most often tended to be diagnosed at a younger age.
  • The rates increased if the participants started these behaviours before the age of 16.
  • In theory, nicks from shaving might allow dangerous compounds in deodorant to enter the bloodstream.

What deodorant chemicals do people suspect cause cancer?

  • Parabens, preservatives commonly used in deodorant, are one suspect. They mimic the activity of estrogen, which is known to promote breast tumours.
  • Other scientists have suggested that aluminum, an ingredient in antiperspirant formulas, causes cancer to arise in breast cells.

Why is the connection ultimately false?

  • All of the theories surrounding a connection between deodorant and breast cancer are actually pure speculation.
  • These theories are contradicted by the only study ever to examine the link between breast cancer and deodorant.
  • In the study, scientists interviewed 813 women with breast cancer, and a similar group of healthy women.
  • They found no difference in how often the women applied deodorant or antiperspirant, nor was there a difference in how often the women shaved their underarms.
  • While more studies would help resolve the matter once and for all, most scientists agree that there's no reason to fear using deodorant.

You may recall a time when the only worry you had about deodorant was that spraying aerosol under your arms was destroying the ozone layer. Switching to roll-on took care of that concern, but then another one arose. That concern, that deodorant causes breast cancer, is ultimately false. You no longer have to worry about yourself in that regard.

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