A link has been found between aluminium in deodorants and cancer, according to British scientists. Tests found that women who used deodorants had deposits of aluminium in their outer breasts. The samples were taken from women who had undergone a mastectomy for breast cancer.
Aluminium is not normally found in the human body and scientists are reasonably convinced the presence of the metal means it is being absorbed from anti-perspirant sprays or roll ons. Most deodorants contain aluminium salts, because the metal is effective at stopping skin sweating.
Dr Chris Exley, from Keele University, who carried out the tests, has already raised concern about the aluminium content of sun creams, fearing it could put users at increased risk of developing skin cancer and Alzheimer's.
His small study involved measuring how much metal was found in breast tissue taken from 17 breast cancer patients who had mastectomies at Wythenshaw Hospital, Manchester.
He found that
the aluminium content of breast tissue was significantly higher in the outer breast.
Dr Exley's study received funding from Genesis, a UK charity dedicated to preventing breast cancer. A report into his findings is to be published in the November issue of the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry.
Dr Exley said: “We found there was a wide variation in concentrations of aluminium. Some patients had low concentrations while others had quite high concentrations.
“What we found among all the women is that they all had higher concentrations in the breast tissue closest to the underarm compared to more central tissue, for example below the nipple.
“We don't know that aluminium originated from antiperspirant but one can put two and two together and make a guess on that. The next work will be to see if the aluminium is coming from antiperspirant or elsewhere. We are going to do what we can to follow up this study with future research. Funding is the main barrier to that.”
Exley added: “Aluminium is known to cause cancer in animal models. We need to make sure aluminium in antiperspirants isn't contributing to breast cancer.”
Dr Exley said manufacturers used aluminium in deodorants because it was very effective in preventing sweating.
He said: “There are some non-aluminium- based antiperspirants but they don't work as well. Myth and legend tells us aluminium is safe but reality shows us not that it isn't safe but that we don't know. Not knowing is not a reason for assuming safety.”
However, Antonia Dean, a Clinical Nurse Specialist at Breast Cancer Care said: “This study found that 17 women with breast cancer all had aluminium present in the under-arm area of the breast.
“However, it has not established where the aluminium came from, whether it may have contributed to the development of the disease or whether similar levels could be found in women who do not have breast cancer.
“Further, large-scale studies are needed on this
issue to enable women to make an informed choice about aluminium containing products. There is insufficient evidence to establish any kind of link between aluminium in deodorants and breast cancer on the basis of this research alone.”
And Dr Christopher Flower, director-general of the Cosmetic, Toiletry & Perfumery Association, said: “I would say that this small study does not present any evidence at all of a link between breast cancer and the use of antiperspirants containing aluminium.
“We do not believe that aluminium is absorbed into the body from the useofantiperspirants.”