What Does Your Deodorant Have To Do With Breast Cancer?

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Much has been said about parabens in personal care products in the recent past. It is true that many paraben studies have come back as inconclusive in regards to these chemicals being a direct cause of breast cancer but this does not mean that they are off the hook yet.


Harvey PW and Everett DJ, contributors to the Journal of Applied Toxicology, explained the role of parabens in two very clear and concise scenarios:

–       ‘Parabens are found in breast cancer tumors’, and

–       ‘Parabens can mimic estrogen, a hormone that plays a role in the development of breast cancer’.


These two simple but important stats are where the general misconception of parabens begins. Although parabens are not considered to be carcinogenic at their core  when used in their accepted percentages, they seem to be present in many things cancer.


What Have Studies Concluded?

The lead researcher of the UK study, molecular biologist Philippa Darbre, reported that the ester-bearing form of the parabens found in the tumors indicate that they came from something applied to the skin, such as an underarm deodorant, cream or body spray, and stated that the results helped to explain why “up to 60% of all breast tumors are found in just one-fifth of the breast – the upper-outer quadrant, nearest the underarm.”


The 2004 study by Darbre looked at 20 women with breast cancer and measured the tumor tissue for presence of 6 different parabens. One hundred percent of samples contained at least one paraben, with methylparaben being the highest.


A 2004 study at Northwestern University found that an earlier age of breast cancer diagnosis related to more frequent use of antiperspirants/deodorants and underarm shaving.


Polyparaben was found in the highest concentration in the underarm area, where underarm deodorants are most used and breast cancer prevalence is at its highest.

(Breast Cancer Prevention Centre study: Sayer, Ji)


Perhaps making all deodorants and antiperspirants on the market today 100% paraben-free is the correct course of action. Until then, read your labels and be aware.


ZENMED does not utilize any polyparabens in our products and is launching a completely paraben free deodorant in 2013.





Darbre PD, Aljarrah A, Miller WR, Coldham NG, Sauer MJ, Pope GS. Concentrations of parabens in human breast tumours. J Appl Toxicol. 2004;24(1):5-13. http://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/article_content.asp?article=60


Harvey PW, Everett DJ (Jan 2004). “Significance of the detection of esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid (parabens) in human breast tumours”. Journal of Applied Toxicology 24 (1): 1–4. doi:10.1002/jat.957. PMID 14745840.


McGrath, Kris (2003 Dec). “An earlier age of breast cancer diagnosis related to more frequent use of antiperspirants/deodorants and underarm shaving”(PDF). European Journal of Cancer Prevention 12 (6): 479–85. doi:10.1097/00008469-200312000-00006.PMID 14639125.


Vince G (12 January 2004). “Cosmetic chemicals found in breast tumours”. New Scientist.




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