Using antiperspirants and deodorants is part of most people’s personal hygiene routine. But, watch out — dangerous chemicals like parabens and aluminum may be lurking in these personal care products.
According to research reviewed in a Journal of Applied Toxicology editorial, high concentrations of potentially carcinogenic parabens were found in the upper quadrants of the breast, as well as in the axillary area where deodorants are applied. (link)
Parabens are chemicals used in antiperspirants, cosmetics, and sun lotions as a preservative. Previous studies have confirmed that all parabens have estrogenic activity, which means they play a part in estrogen-sensitive cancers like breast cancer.
Does Your Antiperspirant Contain These Carcinogenic Substances?
The study mentioned above reviewed 160 tissue samples from 40 mastectomies, and discovered that 99 percent of the samples had one or more paraben esters in them. In fact, 60 percent of the samples contained all five paraben esters!
However, deodorants are not the only source of parabens. Seven of the 40 patients in the study claimed that they never used deodorants or antiperspirants in their lifetime. This means that parabens from drugs, cosmetics and personal care products, and other sources can bioaccumulate in your breast tissue.
Parabens Have NEVER Been Proven Safe, So Why Are You Still Using Paraben-Containing Products?
Parabens are used in many products today, but did you know that these chemicals have barely been investigated? The featured review even states that there is NO study that affirms that the carcinogenity of parabens follow the regulatory standard carcinogenity study protocols. In fact, the pivotal evaluation that determines the human safety of this chemical is a rat study that dates back to 1956!
In addition, almost all the toxicology studies on parabens are based on oral exposure, not on “dermal route,” which, according to the review authors Philip Harvey and David Everett, is the most significant form of exposure.
Harvey and Everett also say that the risk assessment is largely based on assumption, opinion, and the technical regulatory instrument of GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe).
To defend the absence of toxicological studies, the weakness of parabens in terms of potency is given more emphasis. For example, butylparaben and propylparaben are said to be 10,000 and 30,000 less potent than estradiol, the most potent type of estrogen hormone in the body.
Harvey and Everett argue:
“However, estradiol occurs in breast tissue in the pictogram per gram of tissue range… but the results reported by Barr et.al. [the featured study] show tissue concentrations of parabens, in the worst cases, in the microgram per gram of breast tissue range, which is one million-fold higher than that of estradiol. Clearly, the magnitude of exposure would seem to more than compensate for the reduction in potency.” (link)
There is also a 2011 study that states that methylparaben encourages cell cycling and makes human breast cells more apoptosis-resistant. According to the authors, this can be the molecular basis for the proliferation of malignant tumors. Another study cited by Harvey and Everett claims that propylparaben and butylparaben lead to DNA damage.
Aluminum: Another Cancer-Causing Chemical You Must Avoid
Aluminum is the active ingredient used in antiperspirants to clog, close, or block the sweat-producing pores under your arms. Dr. Joseph Mercola warns that this chemical may also lead to many health dangers.
“Not only does [aluminum] block one of your body’s routes for detoxification (releasing toxins via your underarm sweat), but it raises concerns about where these metals are going once you roll them (or spray them) on,” he says.
Aluminum can also mimic estrogen, and can be absorbed and deposited in your breast tissue. Researchers from a previous study even said that increased aluminum levels in the body can used to identify women who have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Antiperspirant use is one of the most common sources of aluminum exposure for humans. A single underarm application can make you absorb as much as 0.012 percent of the aluminum. This may not sound like much, but if you add all the aluminum from your deodorant or antiperspirant use throughout your lifetime, the total amount can be very alarming.
Should You Switch to ‘Natural’ Deodorants?
The good news is that there are many chemical-free and aluminum-free deodorants today. However, Dr. Mercola says that you must be vigilant when selecting a brand. Some “natural” crystal deodorant stones claim to be aluminum-free, but they actually contain alum or potassium aluminum sulfate.
Dr. Mercola does not use any type of antiperspirant or deodorant. Instead, he uses soap and water to clean and keep his armpits odor-free. He also sunbathes his axilla regularly, since UV light can sterilize armpits and increase vitamin D levels, which are essential to your optimal health.
“Essentially you tan your armpits. The effect is not long lasting and the bacteria repopulate in a day or so, unless you expose your armpits to sunlight,” he says.
Dr. Mercola believes that you can avoid breast cancer if you stop using chemical-based products like antiperspirants and deodorants while maintaining a healthy and holistic lifestyle. Check out his other natural tips to help you avoid breast cancer.