Deodorants contain aluminum that gets absorbed in the underarm during shaving. Studies show that breast cancer is most likely to develop in the upper outer quadrant of the breast, a section that is closest to the underarm.(1)
The Link between Aluminum and Cancer
Aluminum is a compound present in many antiperspirants that works by forming a temporary plug in the sweat duct. This prevents the sweat from flowing into the surface. These aluminum compounds according to the American Cancer Society may bring in changes in the breast cells and increase the risk of cancer.(2) A very old study states that aluminum is easily absorbed in a person’s skin and this may lead to the development of breast cancer.(3) It may also lead to changes in a person’s DNA and genes and lead to breast cancer.
A study conducted in 2021 on 384 people suggested that these claims are untrue and there is no relation between aluminum-containing antiperspirants and breast cancer.(4) Another review done in 2014 reviewed more than 460 studies and concluded no link between aluminum and breast cancer.(5)
The Link Between Parabens and Cancer
Parabens are the preservatives used in various food and personal care products including deodorants. When these are applied to the skin the parabens get absorbed and pass into the bloodstream.(5) Parabens on getting into the skin mimic estrogen and alter the hormonal balance, turning on the growth of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Despite these effects, the concentration of parabens is assessed as safe.(6) Even if parabens and aluminum were detected in the samples of breast tumors the American Cancer Society said it could not be the cause of concern(2, 7)
It is advisable to not wear any perfume or deodorants before a mammogram as these products contain aluminum that appears as tiny specks on a mammogram. These specks can resemble calcium deposits that can be a sign of cancer. Not wearing deodorants can make the result more accurate.
Other Risk Factors for Breast Cancer
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention age and being a woman are the main risk factors of breast cancer.
The risk factors for breast cancer include:
- Age: The risk of breast cancer increases with age.
- Reproductive History: People with menarche before 12 or menopause after 55 years are at a higher risk of increased exposure to hormones.
- Genetic Mutations: People with certain genetic mutations have a higher risk of breast cancer.
- Breast Density: Those with dense breasts have a higher risk of breast cancer.
- Family History: The risk of breast cancer increases if the mother, daughter, or sister has ovarian or breast cancer.
- Personal History: Those with a history of breast cancer have more chances of suffering from it again.
Other risk factors include:
- Being physically active
- Taking hormones
- Drinking alcohol
- Being overweight
Alternatives to Deodorants and Antiperspirants
There are numerous natural ways and DIY deodorants that can be tried.
Baking soda deodorant is an alternative that won’t prevent sweating but may help absorb odor without aluminum, parabens, or other ingredients.
Crystal deodorant is another alternative.
Make sure before trying anything even if a natural home care product you patch test it. Nothing is completely safe and the body can be allergic to anything. Instead of landing into any trouble check for the ingredient in any products available in the market marked as natural.
Tips to Manage Underarm Sweat
Sweating is completely normal. It is a way the body cools itself.
Deodorants playing a part in causing cancer lack any evidence or theory to support it completely. But still, we can think of avoiding their usage by taking measures to manage the sweating. A few tips in which the underarm sweat can be managed are:
- Wear loose-fitting clothing
- Wear underarm sweat shield
- LWear naturally breathable fabric
- Change the sweaty shirt
- Use air conditioning and fans
In case of excessive sweating, a healthcare professional can be consulted. It can be due to an underlying cause that can be treated.