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Breast Cancer Health Center

Are Fears That Deodorant Causes Breast Cancer Unfounded?

Study Shows Suspect Chemical Found in Breast Tissue of Women Who Don’t Use Underarm Products
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Should You Try Paraben-Free Personal Care Products? continued...

Don’t be scared of your cosmetics, she says. "Further studies need to be performed to determine if there is a relationship between parabens and breast cancer, but if one is concerned, there are natural products without parabens that could be used.”

Marisa Weiss, MD, does not believe in taking chances with breast health. Weiss, the president and founder of Breastcancer.org and director of Breast Radiation Oncology and Breast Health Outreach at Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood, Pa., is a breast cancer survivor.

“There are parabens in many personal products that can be taken into the body in different ways and can stay in you,” she says. “Our tissues can be storage lockers for chemical such as parabens.”

“Better safe than sorry,” she says. “Avoid products that contain hormonally active ingredients, including parabens.” Weiss practices what she preaches: “I use things that are good enough to eat.”

Is There a Link Between Parabens and Breast Cancer?

Not so fast, critics of the new study say.

Linda Loretz, PhD, is the director of Safety and Regulatory Toxicology for the Personal Care Products Council, a Washington D.C.-based trade group representing the global cosmetic and personal care products industry. She reviewed the new findings for WebMD. “The paraben levels don’t correlate with tumor location, estrogen, or any attribute of breast cancer, so it is hard to find any real meaning in these findings,” she says. 

“This study underscores the folly of trying to blame a specific consumer product for not only exposure to certain chemicals, but for exposure to those chemicals being responsible for causing a specific disease,” says Jeff Stier. He is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C.

The research actually undermines any link between breast cancer and deodorants, he says.

Dana Mirick, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, agrees. Mirick and colleagues published a study in 2002 looking at antiperspirant use and breast cancer risk. “The present study, in which measurable levels of parabens were found in the breast tissue of women regardless of their use of underarm products, seems to be in agreement with our previous results, namely that use of underarm products does not appear to be a significant contributor to the risk of developing breast cancer,” Mirick says in an email.

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