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Are Fears That Deodorant Causes Breast Cancer Unfounded?

Study Shows Suspect Chemical Found in Breast Tissue of Women Who Don’t Use Underarm Products

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.

Sharima Rasanayagam, PhD, is not so sure. She is the director of science for the Breast Cancer Fund, a San Francisco, Calif.-based advocacy group that focuses on environmental links to breast cancer. “This study provides another piece in the puzzle around parabens and their potential link to breast cancer,” she says.

“We know that parabens are estrogen mimickers, and so we continue to be concerned about our exposure to these chemicals through consumer products like cosmetics,” Rasanayagam says in an email.

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