Chemicals found in underarm deodorants have been detected in the tumors of breast cancer sufferers, British scientists said on Monday.
Researchers at the University of Reading found traces of the chemicals called parabens in tissue samples, proving that the preservatives can accumulate inside the body, although a direct link with breast cancer has not been proven.
“Their detection in human breast tumors is of concern since parabens have been shown to mimic the action of the female hormone estrogen, and estrogen can drive the growth of human breast tumors,” Dr. Philippa Darbre, lead author of the study, said in a statement.
“It would therefore seem especially prudent to consider whether parabens should continue to be used in such a wide variety of cosmetics applied to the breast area,” she added.
More investigation needed
But Dr. Philip Harvey, European editor of the Journal of Applied Toxicology, which published the research, stressed the need for more investigation.
“Further work is required to examine any association between estrogenic, and other, chemicals in underarm cosmetics and breast cancer,” he said.
Despite previous suggestions that chemicals in deodorants and anti-perspirants may be adding to a rising incidence of breast cancer, charities stress that no evidence exists to support any link.
“Breast cancer is a complex disease and we do not yet understand all its causes,” said Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive of breast cancer charity Breakthrough.
“There has been a lot of discussion surrounding a link between anti-perspirants and the disease but there is still no scientific evidence of a causal link,” she added.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, with one in nine British women likely to develop the disease at some time in their life.