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Are Antiperspirants Linked to Breast Cancer?

Recent research is raising questions about the safety of antiperspirant ingredients. A study published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology found that chemicals called parabens can be found in the breast tissue of breast cancer patients. These compounds are widely used as preservatives in food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, including antiperspirants. Because parabens have mild estrogenic activity, there is concern that they might contribute to the risk of breast cancer. This research, however, does not establish a causal connection. The FDA maintains “that at the present time there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of cosmetics containing parabens.”

Antiperspirants also contain aluminum compounds such as aluminum chlorohydrate to block perspiration. In tissue culture, breast cells exposed to these aluminum salts begin to divide in abnormal ways. The scientists do not claim that aluminum compounds are carcinogenic, but they urge further research into their safety.

[Journal of Applied Toxicology, online Jan. 6, 2012; Journal of Applied Toxicology online Jan. 12, 2012]

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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