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Using Deodorants With Aluminum Salts A Breast Cancer Risk Factor?
In view of possible health risks, aluminum deodorants have recently come under increasing criticism. A first case-control study with analysis of tissue samples has now shown that deodorants with aluminum salts are a risk factor for the development of breast cancer.
In a recent study, scientists from the Medical University of Innsbruck came to the conclusion that "the very frequent use of forearm cosmetics several times a day can increase the risk of developing breast cancer at a young age." Although the scientists were unable to prove a clear causal link, they did caution is imperative when using deodorants with aluminum salts. The researchers published their results in the scientific journal "EbioMedicine".
Aluminum is used in numerous cosmetics
Aluminum salts are used in so-called antiperspirants, among other things, because they have an antiperspirant effect. However, according to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), aluminum is also used in other cosmetic products such as, for example, as a coating of nanoparticles in sunscreens, as a color pigment in lipsticks and in the form of aluminum fluoride in toothpaste. For some years now, possible health risks from aluminum salts have been discussed, such as a connection with Alzheimer's disease or breast cancer. So far, however, the data from the study has not been sufficient to provide a clear assessment, according to the BfR position.
Relationship to breast cancer risk examined
In the current epidemiological study, the scientists at the Medical University of Innsbruck have now investigated the relationship between breast cancer risk and the use of deodorants with aluminum salts using 209 breast cancer patients and an equally large “healthy” control group. Many women are very concerned about whether the deodorants with aluminum salts could increase their risk of developing breast cancer later. Therefore, the researchers said they wanted to "gain further insights."
Aluminum concentration in tissue samples analyzed
As part of the study, the subjects were initially asked about the use of deodorants with aluminum salts, explains Hanno Ulmer, Director of the Section for Medical Statistics and Computer Science at the Medical University of Innsbruck. In addition, the study also "for the first time examined a larger series of tissue samples from the breast for their aluminum concentration", adds Nicole Concin, Professor of Experimental Gynecology at the Innsbruck University Clinic for Gynecology and Obstetrics. Tissue samples were taken from 100 subjects during a breast operation and the breast tissue from 52 healthy study participants in the control group could also be analyzed, said Concin.
Breast cancer risk increased statistically significantly
According to the scientists, the statistical analysis of the data showed that women who had used deodorants very often (several times a day) had an increased risk of breast cancer. "Even if only six percent of all women surveyed belong to this group with very frequent use, our evaluations are statistically significant", emphasizes the first author Caroline Linhart, from the Section for Medical Statistics and Computer Science at the Medical University of Innsbruck. In addition, the researchers found that women with breast cancer had a significantly higher aluminum concentration in breast tissue than non-cancerous women in the control group. This was especially true for women with tumors near the armpits.
Further investigation required
Although the current study results are not definitive evidence that aluminum salts have a carcinogenic effect, there is growing evidence of a possible connection with the development of breast cancer. "Further examinations are absolutely necessary," emphasizes gynecologist Nicole Concin. Because the current results are based on purely statistical correlation analyzes and no investigation of causal relationships has taken place. Conversely, no all-clear can be given regarding the use of deodorants with aluminum salts, says Hanno Ulmer.
Caution is imperative
Until the significance of aluminum salts as a cancer risk factor has been fully clarified, the scientists recommend careful handling of forearm cosmetics that contain aluminum. Excessive use should be avoided, especially at a young age. The BfR takes a similar position, although the Federal Institute also refers to the relatively high amounts of aluminum that consumers already consume through food. "The weekly tolerable intake is probably exhausted by food alone in part of the population," said the BfR. With long-term use of cosmetic products containing aluminum, the weekly tolerable intake amount will be exceeded permanently in individual cases. (fp)