Q: I’ve heard that there’s a link between the aluminum in deodorant and breast cancer. Where did this idea come from, and is it true?
A: I think part of the reason this myth emerged is that we used to tell patients that they couldn’t use aluminum-containing antiperspirant during radiation, because there were concerns that the aluminum would increase the skin irritation that can result from radiation. Then, in several studies that was shown not to be the case. I think some people made a connection there.
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There’s also been concern that there’s a link between aluminum and the development of breast cancer that’s estrogen-positive. But a big study of more than 1,600 women published in 2002 showed no link between breast cancer risk and antiperspirant use, deodorant use or even shaving the underarms.
I think there are other things we should probably be more concerned about when it comes to breast cancer risk. Age, the use of hormone replacement therapy and family history are some of the biggest risk factors for breast cancer, and those are far more important, in my opinion.
— Radiation oncologist Chirag Shah, MD
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