Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed non-skin cancer in American women. National Cancer Institute (NCI) defines breast cancer as cancer that forms in tissues of the breast, usually the ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple) and lobules (glands that make milk). It occurs in both men and women although male breast cancer is rare. Estimated new cases and deaths from breast cancer in United States (US) in 2010 based on NCI statistics are as follows: New cases -207,090 (female); 1,970 (male): Deaths 39,840 (female); 390 (male). Etiologies are not yet known regarding breast cancer, however there are several risk factors linked to the disease. Risk factors are not definite since having a risk factor are even several doesn’t mean a woman would get breast cancer. Breast cancer risk factors include, genetic predisposition (BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes 5-10% of breast cancer are thought to be linked to these genes), family history, personal history, race, age, gender, dense breast tissue, treatment with DES, obesity, use of birth control, HRT and possibly antiperspirants. The review of literature will examine if there is a link between breast cancer and the use of antiperspirants. Several lay articles and internet literature have warned consumers that underarm antiperspirants/deodorants cause breast cancer. The reports suggest that the aluminum base compound that is the active ingredient in antiperspirants gets absorbed in the skin and may be related to the development of breast cancer.
Exley, Charles, Barr, Martin, Polwart and Darbe (2007) measured the aluminum content of breast tissue found in 17 breast cancer patients. GFAAS (Graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry) was used to measure aluminum content in breast biopsies obtained following mastectomies. Biopsies were taken from 4 different regions of the breast from the outer-inner
Breast Cancer and Antiperspirants
region. Although the sample size was small the outer region had significantly higher aluminum content of (P=0.033) than the inner region. No significant differences were reported between the mean concentrations of aluminum in each region across all the patients (P>0.05). Comparison between this study and previous published research is complicated by details of method and instrumentation. This study suggests that the reason for the high concentration of aluminum in the outer region could be due to the proximity to the underarm where the highest density of application of antiperspirant is used. Claims made that this is evidence that skin is permeable to aluminum when applied as antiperspirant. Limitations to this study include no direct evidence that links the aluminum measured in the breast biopsies originated from the use of antiperspirants. Others include no control group, the effects of healthy tissues not examined, no data in regard to subjects’ medications and other treatments that may expose them to aluminum.
A multi-disciplinary literature based set of evidence is examined to show possible link between antiperspirant that obstruct the gland and to prompt more research for the etiology and prevention of breast and prostate cancer (McGraph, 2009). Data was examined from various disciplines including epidemiology, marketing, oncology, gynecology, urology, dermatology, endocrinology, histology, and pharmacology in support of a link between antiperspirant usage and breast/prostate cancer. Similarities between breast and prostate cancer suggest that the etiologies are the same. Patterns of breast cancer is of concern also occurrence in women with few or no risk factors. African-American women and
Breast Cancer and Antiperspirants men have higher incidents of breast and prostate cancer, respectively.