Deodorant and breast cancer

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.

Deodorants may be combined with antiperspirants classified as drugs by the FDA which attempt to stop or significantly reduce perspiration and thus reduce the moist climate in which bacteria thrive. Aluminium chloride, aluminium chlorohydrate, and aluminium-zirconium compounds, most notably Aluminium zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly and Aluminium zirconium trichlorohydrex gly, are the most widely used antiperspirants. Aluminium-based complexes react with the electrolytes in the sweat to form a gel plug in the duct of the sweat gland. The plugs prevent the gland from excreting liquid and are removed over time by the natural sloughing of the skin. The blockage of a large number of sweat glands reduces the amount of sweat produced in the underarms, though this may vary from person to person.

A popular alternative to modern commercial deodorants is ammonium alum, which is a common type of alum sold in crystal form. It has been used as a deodorant throughout history in some countries.

Deodorants and antiperspirants come in many forms. What is commonly used varies in different countries. In Europe, aerosol sprays are popular, as are cream and roll on forms. In the United States, solid or gel forms are dominant.

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