Toxicologists have been studying the potential risk of deodorant and antiperspirant ingredients, especially parabens and aluminum.
Parabens is a category of chemical that acts as a preservative in some underarm and personal care products. Both parabens and aluminum are estrogenic chemicals, meaning they interact with the body’s hormones or cells in ways similar to estrogen. This concerns researchers because excess estrogen plays a role in promoting the growth of cancer cells.
Many of the ingredients found in underarm deodorant are concerning on their own. But the health risk of each may be greater when they are combined to create complex chemical cocktails.
However, according to the American Cancer Society’s website, there is not “clear” or “direct” link between parabens or aluminum and cancer. Although, the National Cancer Institute does assert that more research is needed.
The FDA believes that at the moment there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of cosmetics containing parabens. But, the FDA will continue to evaluate new data in this area. If it is determined that a health hazard exists, the agency will advise the industry and the public.
Some research has detected parabens in women’s breast tissue although researchers are unsure exactly how those parabens go there and what happens when they are in breast tissue.
These experiments combine different parabens with human cells and create activity that may contribute to the development of cancer. However, attempts to identify these links in humans have produced inconsistent results, as opposed to in petri dishes.
One 2002 study found no correlation between underarm product use and breast cancer while a 2003 study did find evidence of links. Researchers do assert that both those studies had flaws and left many important questions unanswered.
Until more is known, consumers are in stuck between a rock and a hard place.
It is important to keep in mind that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.