For years scientists have wondered if some of the chemicals that are found in common deodorants contribute to breast cancer. Many tumors are found near the armpit, and that has had doctors wondering about the products we slather on to stay fresh. A new study looks into this very idea.
What researchers are looking for?
The chemical researchers want to know more about is called paraben. Some believe this chemical can mimic estrogen and can play a role in the formation of tumors. Paraben is found in many cosmetics, including hand lotions and sunscreens. British researchers put this idea to the test.
They looked at the breast tissue from 40 women that had mastectomies, a procedure that removes the entire breast after cancer is found. They found that all of the samples, including samples from women who say they have never used any kind of deodorant, all had paraben in the tissue.
What do these results mean?
These results aren’t enough to rule deodorant out as a cancer-causing agent, and they aren’t enough to exclude it either.
“Although estrogen is an acknowledged component in the development of breast cancer, it remains to be established as to whether environmental chemicals with estrogenic (estrogen-like) properties contribute a functional component to the disease process,” s Dr. Philippa Darbre, a cancer researcher at the Universtiy of Reading. “I feel sure the issue is bigger than one chemical.”
Although the amount of parabens has increased over the years, the levels found in cancerous breast tissue remained the same when compared to previous studies.
The American Cancer Society weighs in
The American Cancer Society says there is no strong evidence that connects deodorants with cancer. The agency posts that information right on its website, in an effort to keep people informed.
For now the connection remains unknown. Darbre is planning further research.