• Natalie

Antiperspirant and (Breast) Cancer

Today’s post is going to focus on a topic that is close to my heart, and not for the reason that you are likely thinking.

A number of years ago there was an online uproar about how using antiperspirants that contained aluminum was contributing to the development of breast cancer. This prompted the beginning of fear-mongering, incorrect information and host of indy brands creating “clean deodorant.”

I’m here to share my research and some basic information about antiperspirant vs. deodorant.

This subject is close to my heart for a very specific reason. I take A GREAT AMOUNT of offence to folks who choose to SCARE other people into using a beauty /makeup /cosmetic / personal care product. Working in cosmetics retail means that I see this fear everyday I'm at work and it makes me sick. Informed decision making is so important but fear mongering, scare marketing and shame-marketing are taking over an industry that was designed to help people to build confidence.

So, let's get into it. Cancer and antiperspirant.

What is the difference between antiperspirant and deodorant?

This may be a simple question to some, but a source of confusion for others. Antiperspirant contains aluminum salts or other ingredients that are designed to create a plug within the sweat gland. The sweat is then unable to be released until the plug is removed. Deodorant is combination of ingredients that covers (or attempts to) the smell of sweat that has been released and is now interacting with the bacteria on the skin.

What about releasing toxins? Doesn’t a lack of sweat mean toxins are building up in the body?

No, there is very little scientific evidence to support the idea that toxins are released in large amounts from the sweat glands. While scientists agree that a negligible amount of toxins may be released from sweating, it is more likely that toxins will be released in urine or feces as these are both distant products of liver metabolism. Sweat is composed of mostly water, with some electrolytes (like salt and potassium) and a few small proteins.

What about cancer risk?

There are some scientific papers that suggest aluminum lends minor estrogenic effects and that aluminum can affect cellular metabolism and cellular genetics, leading to overgrowth and cancerous tissue, however none of these suggestions have been fully studied and proven nor disproven.

The only 2 major epidemiological studies (one in America, one in Iran) found no link between rates of breast cancer and antiperspirant use. In addition to these negative findings the reviews completed on available data (from various studies) also show no immediate link between rates of breast cancer and antiperspirant use but they all suggest that more comprehensive studies be completed.

What are cancer societies saying about breast cancer and antiperspirant use?

The Canadian Cancer Society

“There is no evidence that the use of antiperspirants increases your risk for breast cancer.”

American Cancer Society

“…a carefully designed epidemiological study of this issue published in 2002 compared 813 women with breast cancer and 793 women without the disease. The researchers found no link between breast cancer risk and antiperspirant use, deodorant use, or underarm shaving.”

The major takeaway for you should be this:

Making INFORMED decisions is of major importance when it comes to keeping your body safe and healthy. Don’t immediately believe what that pushy sales associate tells you or what that viral post on Facebook is telling you. Take the time to do your research, use authoritative resources and make decisions that are right for you.

On a non-scientific note:

Deodorants don’t stop you from sweating and stinking. So, if you notice an odd odour while using a deodorant, consider that your body odour is too strong for your deodorant.

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