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According to a recent article published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the use of underarm deodorant or antiperspirants does not appear to increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

Breast cancer claims the lives of approximately 40,000 women annually in the United States alone. Due to these high statistics, researchers are investigating possible associations between environmental and genetic links and the risk of developing breast cancer in order to help prevent the disease. Recent undocumented news reports circulating on the Internet have suggested a correlation between the use of underarm deodorants and/or antiperspirants and the development of breast cancer. A deodorant is used specifically to eliminate odor and antiperspirant is used to stop underarm perspiration and odor. These claims prompted researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to include questions regarding deodorant and antiperspirant use in an epidemiological study being conducted in western Washington state.

The researchers performed a study involving 813 women with breast cancer and 793 women without breast cancer between the ages of 20 and 74 years. The participants completed a questionnaire examining overall deodorant or antiperspirant use, whether they shaved with a razor blade and whether they applied deodorant or antiperspirant within one hour of shaving with a razor blade. The results of the study indicated that risk for breast cancer was not increased in these women if they routinely performed any of these activities.

These researchers concluded that the routine use of deodorant or antiperspirants, even if used within one hour after shaving with a razor blade, does not appear to increase the risk of breast cancer. Future larger studies may help confirm or refute these findings. However, at present, the results of this study may help quell the fear of some women who were concerned after reading reports suggesting an association between product use and breast cancer.

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Reference: Mirick D, Davis S, Thomas D. Antiperspirant use and the risk of breast cancer.

Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2002;94:1578-1580.

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