Is Your Deodorant Raising Your Risk of Breast Cancer?

Environmental contaminants like aluminum are linked to significantly higher risks of cancer When U.S. President Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act into law on Dec. 23, 1971, 50 years ago, he was confident that U.S. scientists could find a cure for what he described as “this dread disease.” But, five decades into America’s War on Cancer, cancer is still among the top three leading causes of death in the United States, as well as in China, and many other countries in the industrialized world. Aside from skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer a woman in America will face: One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. That translates into one breast cancer diagnosis every two minutes. A little-known fact: men, too, can get breast cancer. About 2,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in men every year, according to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. What Is Cancer? Cancer is the word we use to describe uncontrolled growth of abnormal, malignant cells in the body. The human body is made up of trillions of cells, and cancer can start almost anywhere. In breast cancer, it’s malignant mammary cells that cause tumors that first start to grow unchecked in human breast tissue. It’s common for human cells to mutate and grow abnormally. But when the immune system is functioning properly, our body recognizes this abnormal growth as “non-self” and takes care of the problem, in much the same way as a healthy immune system takes care of a viral or bacterial invader. Cancer becomes a threat to our health when the immune system doesn’t recognize these abnormal cells and fails to eliminate them. Once a number of abnormal cells proliferate, they form tumors (lumps of tissue). These tumors can then metastasize, leading them to invade other tissues or organs in the body. Types of cancer are often named for the tissues or organs where the abnormal growth first begins and accumulates. So lung cancer is cancer that begins in the lungs, and pancreatic cancer begins in the pancreas. Some cancer is named by the type of cell that formed it. For example, squamous cell carcinoma is skin cancer that begins in the body’s squamous cells, which are the cells that make up the middle and outer layers of the skin. Breast Cancers Often Environmentally Induced Much has been made of “breast cancer genes,” harmful variants of BRCA1 and BRCA2, that are inherited from either parent. Women with harmful variants of these genes are thought to be at increased risk of both breast and ovarian cancer. They also tend to develop cancer at younger ages than people who don’t have BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations. While 13 percent of women in the general population will develop breast cancer, some 55 to 72 percent of women with BRCA1 mutation will develop breast cancer and 45 to 69 percent of women with BRCA2 will, according to the National Cancer Institute. The concern over these breast cancer genes has led some women to get their breasts removed prophylactically. When the popular actress Angelina Jolie had a preventative double mastectomy in 2013 at age 37, followed by surgery to get artificially constructed breasts implanted, her decision to do so created a media storm and international discussion about breast cancer. The media, including the BBC, reported that Jolie’s chances of developing breast cancer dropped from 87 percent to 5. But what the mainstream media has largely ignored, is that the vast majority of breast cancer is likely environmentally, not genetically, induced. Indeed, experts believe that approximately 75 to 80 percent of all breast cancer is actually due to environmental and lifestyle factors. These factors include hormone exposure, alcohol consumption, and obesity, according to research published in the International Journal of Molecular Science. Other research has shown that endocrine disruptors (chemicals that change human hormones) from the environment, including plasticizers, DDT, and other pesticides and herbicides, contribute to breast cancer risk. Breast Cancer and Aluminum Aluminum, particularly aluminum in commercial antiperspirants, may also be a big player in the ubiquity of breast cancer. Aluminum has no known use in the human body. But experts have found that it is toxic to many biological systems and organs, including the brain and the kidneys. Several retrospective studies, including one from 2002, one from 2003, and a more recent study from 2017, have linked aluminum and breast cancer, specifically the early use of aluminum-containing antiperspirants with the development of breast cancer. But these scientific studies, while important, have been limited by their retrospective nature, small sample sizes, and lack of unexposed controls. However, in 2020, an international team of researchers directed by Dr. Stefano J. Mandriota, a leading breast cancer researcher based in Switzerland, designed

Is Your Deodorant Raising Your Risk of Breast Cancer?

Environmental contaminants like aluminum are linked to significantly higher risks of cancer

When U.S. President Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act into law on Dec. 23, 1971, 50 years ago, he was confident that U.S. scientists could find a cure for what he described as “this dread disease.” But, five decades into America’s War on Cancer, cancer is still among the top three leading causes of death in the United States, as well as in China, and many other countries in the industrialized world.

Aside from skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer a woman in America will face: One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. That translates into one breast cancer diagnosis every two minutes. A little-known fact: men, too, can get breast cancer. About 2,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in men every year, according to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

What Is Cancer?

Cancer is the word we use to describe uncontrolled growth of abnormal, malignant cells in the body. The human body is made up of trillions of cells, and cancer can start almost anywhere. In breast cancer, it’s malignant mammary cells that cause tumors that first start to grow unchecked in human breast tissue.

It’s common for human cells to mutate and grow abnormally. But when the immune system is functioning properly, our body recognizes this abnormal growth as “non-self” and takes care of the problem, in much the same way as a healthy immune system takes care of a viral or bacterial invader. Cancer becomes a threat to our health when the immune system doesn’t recognize these abnormal cells and fails to eliminate them. Once a number of abnormal cells proliferate, they form tumors (lumps of tissue). These tumors can then metastasize, leading them to invade other tissues or organs in the body.

Types of cancer are often named for the tissues or organs where the abnormal growth first begins and accumulates. So lung cancer is cancer that begins in the lungs, and pancreatic cancer begins in the pancreas. Some cancer is named by the type of cell that formed it. For example, squamous cell carcinoma is skin cancer that begins in the body’s squamous cells, which are the cells that make up the middle and outer layers of the skin.

Breast Cancers Often Environmentally Induced

Much has been made of “breast cancer genes,” harmful variants of BRCA1 and BRCA2, that are inherited from either parent. Women with harmful variants of these genes are thought to be at increased risk of both breast and ovarian cancer. They also tend to develop cancer at younger ages than people who don’t have BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations. While 13 percent of women in the general population will develop breast cancer, some 55 to 72 percent of women with BRCA1 mutation will develop breast cancer and 45 to 69 percent of women with BRCA2 will, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The concern over these breast cancer genes has led some women to get their breasts removed prophylactically. When the popular actress Angelina Jolie had a preventative double mastectomy in 2013 at age 37, followed by surgery to get artificially constructed breasts implanted, her decision to do so created a media storm and international discussion about breast cancer. The media, including the BBC, reported that Jolie’s chances of developing breast cancer dropped from 87 percent to 5.

But what the mainstream media has largely ignored, is that the vast majority of breast cancer is likely environmentally, not genetically, induced. Indeed, experts believe that approximately 75 to 80 percent of all breast cancer is actually due to environmental and lifestyle factors. These factors include hormone exposure, alcohol consumption, and obesity, according to research published in the International Journal of Molecular Science.

Other research has shown that endocrine disruptors (chemicals that change human hormones) from the environment, including plasticizers, DDT, and other pesticides and herbicides, contribute to breast cancer risk.

Breast Cancer and Aluminum

Aluminum, particularly aluminum in commercial antiperspirants, may also be a big player in the ubiquity of breast cancer. Aluminum has no known use in the human body. But experts have found that it is toxic to many biological systems and organs, including the brain and the kidneys.

Several retrospective studies, including one from 2002, one from 2003, and a more recent study from 2017, have linked aluminum and breast cancer, specifically the early use of aluminum-containing antiperspirants with the development of breast cancer. But these scientific studies, while important, have been limited by their retrospective nature, small sample sizes, and lack of unexposed controls.

However, in 2020, an international team of researchers directed by Dr. Stefano J. Mandriota, a leading breast cancer researcher based in Switzerland, designed a prospective study to research whether aluminum, especially the aluminum in antiperspirants, was contributing to the explosion of breast cancer incidence in recent decades.

Aluminum-Induced Cancer in Immune-Compromised Mice

Mandriota and a subset of his team had previously studied the effect of long-term culture of mammary cells in aluminum salts. For that research, they used concentrations of aluminum similar to the concentrations found in breast tissue of women in industrialized countries.

The scientists found that aluminum in vitro (meaning in an artificial laboratory-generated environment, not in a living organism’s body) transformed healthy cells into cancer-causing cells. Then, when researchers injected these cancer-causing cells into immunocompromised mice, the mice developed tumors.

Aluminum-Induced Cancer In Immune-Intact Mice 

Most breast cancers develop in women with healthy, normally functioning immune systems. So the scientists needed a way to determine whether aluminum-exposed cells could also cause tumors in animals with intact immune systems.

To that end, Mandriota and his team cultured mammary cells in AlCl3 solutions for the experiment and in plain water for the controls. They then injected these cells into normal mice that had healthy immune function.

Nine out of 10 and 8 out of 10 of the mice in the two groups injected with aluminum-cultured cells developed invasive carcinomas. At the same time, none of the mice in the control group got cancer.

Mandriota and his team concluded that mammary cells transformed in vitro by aluminum “form aggressive tumours in the presence of an intact immune system.” These results suggested that there may be a clear and causal link between aluminum exposure and breast cancer tumors, as well as other forms of cancer. The scientists hypothesized that aluminum causes direct damage to chromosomes, which makes it a likely mechanism for the transformation of normal cells into cancer-causing cells.

“You should be concerned about aluminum,” said Dr. Chris Chlebowski, who wasn’t involved in the study. Chlebowski, a naturopath based in Ashland, Oregon, said he has tested thousands of patients for metal toxicity. However, in his patient cohort, he said, aluminum toxicity actually isn’t as common as other forms of metal overload.

“It’s actually rare to find aluminum,” he said. “Lead, mercury, cadmium, cesium, and thallium are much more common. But none of these metals should be in our body. There’s no physiological purpose for any of them.”

Sources of Aluminum Exposure

We are exposed to aluminum in a variety of ways: Virtually every major brand of deodorant and antiperspirant still uses aluminum compounds. Aluminum is also found in processed foods (including baking powder, coloring agents, anti-caking agents, and infant formula), pharmaceutical products such as antacids and vaccines, and in cookware. Cooking acidic food in aluminum pots may expose you to higher levels of aluminum than if you cook food in stainless steel or glass cookware, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Limiting Your Aluminum Exposure

It is best to avoid aluminum and limit your environmental exposure to other known carcinogens as much as possible.

  1. Read ingredient lists: Get in the habit of reading the list of ingredients in all of the food, beauty products, and over-the-counter medications you buy. Also read the package inserts for ingredients in prescription medications. Whenever you see a form of aluminum listed, err on the side of caution and put that product back on the shelf. Choose aluminum-free baking powder, eat unprocessed foods, and find natural alternatives to conventional medications that contain aluminum.
  2. Stop using deodorant that contains aluminum compounds. You can buy a natural, aluminum-free deodorant or make your own with nontoxic ingredients. Several websites, including Mommypotamus, offer easy recipes for DIY deodorant.
  3. Avoid aluminum cookware. While the amount of aluminum in cookware is so small that it’s considered safe, if you are trying to decrease your cumulative exposure to aluminum, it’s best not to use aluminum pots, pans, or cookie sheets. Choose glass baking dishes, stainless steel, and cast-iron cookware instead.
  4. Avoid aluminum-containing vaccines. You can access a list of ingredients in different vaccine brands either through the manufacturers’ package inserts or via the CDC’s “Vaccine Excipient Table,” which is available online. If you can’t avoid aluminum-containing vaccines for yourself and your family, recent research suggests that getting only one aluminum-containing vaccine at a time leads to better health outcomes.
  5. Toss the acetaminophen in the trash. Some seemingly harmless items in your cabinets may actually decrease your body’s ability to rid itself of aluminum and other harmful chemicals. According to Duke University Medical School scientist Dr. William Parker, the popular pain killer acetaminophen (the main ingredient in Tylenol) depletes the body of glutathione and can compromise detoxification pathways. Never take acetaminophen at the same time you are taking an aluminum-containing medication.
  6. Other ways to support healthy detoxification, according to naturopathic physician Dr. Kara Fitzgerald, include eating a wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruits (especially dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables); choosing organic food over conventional foods that are grown with pesticides and herbicides; filtering your water; drinking green tea; and adding cilantro and turmeric to your diet.

Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., an award-winning science journalist, book author, and sought-after speaker, is a frequent contributor to The Epoch Times. She is the author of award-winning book “Your Baby, Your Way” and co-author, with Dr. Paul Thomas, of “The Vaccine-Friendly Plan.”