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Study Dispels Rumor About Deodorant/Antiperspirants Causing Breast Cancer (dateline December 19, 2002)

Though medical experts have been saying for years that neither the use of deodorants nor antiperspirants increase the risk of developing breast cancer, Internet and email rumors are still circulating to the contrary. Now, the results of the first study on the subject have been published. The findings, which did not find any link between deodorant/antiperspirant and breast cancer risk, should provide relief to women and put the rumors to rest.

Several versions of a false claim about deodorants and/or antiperspirants causing breast cancer have been widely circulated over the last few years. In many of the versions, the message mistakenly says that deodorant/antiperspirant interferes with the body’s need to purge dangerous toxins. Furthermore, the rumor claims that women who apply deodorant/antiperspirant right after shaving increase further increase their risk of developing breast cancer because shaving causes "almost imperceptible nicks in the skin which give the chemicals entrance into the body from the armpit area."

To determine whether there is any association between the use of deodorant or antiperspirant and breast cancer risk, investigators led by Dana K. Mirick, MS of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center interviewed 813 women between the ages of 20 and 74 who had been diagnosed with breast cancer between November 1992 and March 1995. The women were asked about their habits of using deodorant or antiperspirant and shaving. The women’s answers were compared to interviews of 793 women who had never been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The results of the study were published in the October 16, 2002 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Mirick and her colleagues found that deodorants/antiperspirants were not found to increase the risk of breast cancer in any of the below situations:

  1. The application of deodorant or antiperspirant among any of the women
  2. The application of deodorant or antiperspirant among the women who shaved with a blade razor
  3. The application of deodorant or antiperspirant within one hour of shaving

These results should calm women who might be inclined to believe the Internet/email rumor about deodorants and antiperspirants causing breast cancer. Instead, women should be aware of the established risk factors for breast cancer, which include:

Additional Resources and References