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Breast Cancer and Antiprespirants Rumor

There are rumors that deodorants and other cosmetics increase a woman's risk of getting breast cancer. KSMU's Emily Nash talked with a Radiologist and a Naturopathic Physician to get their perspective on the topic.

If you Google the phrase "Breast Cancer and Deodorants" you get over two-hundred thousand hits.

Most of the sites claim deoderant increase a woman's risk for getting breast cancer.

The rumors suggest deodorants contain harmful preservatives and chemicals which can be absorbed through the skin through shaving and frequent application.

Norman Smith is a Naturopathic Physician at the Lifestyle Wellness Center in Pineville Missouri.

She says antiperspirants contain chemicals called parabens that can clog up the lymph flow of a woman's breast.

"What research has shown, that they call it Parabens, P-A-R-A-B-E-N-S. And they did a lot of biopsies and found that in 20 different breast tumors, they found these parabens. In 2004 there is a Chicago Allergist that was concerned about that and he found a connection antiperspirants and under arm shaving, that the body could absorb more of the aluminum into the tissue through the actually it is called aluminum chlohydrate and it could absorb through the lymph system and clog up the pores and affect the lymph flow to the breast."

She says because aluminum builds up over a long period of time women should avoid using antiperspirants that contain it.

"If you are going to use antiperspirants and so forth, try and stay away from aluminum. It accumulates it not just happens over a day. You know the high concentration of the toxens leads to the cell mutation."

Dr.Bruce Hedgepeth is a Radiologist at Cox Health who specializes in Breast Disease.

He has a different opinion about the rumor.

He says, the breast tissue under a woman's arm is more likely to get cancer because it's the longest living breast tissue in the body.

Not because of antiperspirants.

"You know I have seen that rumor on the internet several times and I hear people talking about it and I don't know how it keeps getting propagated. But, my perspective is that as women use this deodorant they are also putting that deodorant in an area where we probably do see more cancers. The theory of how breast cancers start is related to where the breast tissue lives, and the breast tissue lives in the breast and it lives for the most part in older women in the upper outer quadrant of the last place for it to go. So from my perspective it's simply a phenomenon of the breast cancers tend to be where there is the most breast tissue for the longest amount of time."

Dr. Hedgepeth says he doesn't think there will ever be scientific evidence to support the connection between antiperspirants and breast cancer..

"You know I don't know what association that they are making, but I don't think there will ever be that scientific proof showing it one way or the other. I think it's just impossible to do that study because you would have to have use deodorant all their life and you would have to have another huge population of women, never use deodorant for their lives to see if there is any difference. Or you would have to be able to look at the tissue and find out common elements that would be in the breast tissue versus what is in the deodorant."

While antiperspirants don't cause breast cancer, Dr. Hedgepeth says there are some risk factors for women.

But he says most of the time, increased breast cancer risk comes from your genes.

"Genetic Predisposition. Women who have chromosomal abnormalities, which predispose them to genetic or familiar risk of cancer. Prior radiation to the chest, such as from thyroid radiation or treatment for lymphoma. People have talked about how weight and alcohol and different things being a risk factor, but most of the time we don't have a choice whether we get breast cancer or not."

Although, there are few preventatives, Dr. Hedgepeth says early detection is the best way to fight breast cancer.

He suggests women have monthly self examinations and yearly clinical examinations.