Many people use antiperspirants or deodorants to fight sweat and body odor, and most antiperspirants contain aluminum. For more than two decades, a debate has been brewing about whether using natural antiperspirants or deodorants is safer than using aluminum-based products.
According to the American Cancer Society, an email rumor that has been shared since the 1990s suggests underarm antiperspirants can cause breast cancer, and that claim is still being shared by some people on Twitter to this day.
With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the VERIFY team is clearing up this rumor once and for all.
Is there evidence that aluminum-based antiperspirants or deodorants cause cancer?
- American Cancer Society
- National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health
- Dr. Adam Friedman, chair, Department of Dermatology and professor of Dermatology at The George Washington University
- Dr. Corey L. Hartman, founder, medical director and board-certified dermatologist at Skin Wellness Dermatology
- Dr. Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist at Mudgil Dermatology
No, there is no evidence that aluminum-based antiperspirants or deodorants cause cancer.
WHAT WE FOUND
According to the National Cancer Institute, a 2014 review concluded that there was no clear evidence showing that the use of aluminum-containing antiperspirants increases a person’s risk of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society also says on its website that there are no scientific studies that link breast cancer risk with antiperspirant or deodorant use.
Three board-certified dermatologists also told VERIFY that there is no evidence aluminum-based antiperspirants or deodorants cause cancer.
“There have been those who have said that aluminum-made products could be dangerous or be cancer-causing — there is absolutely no evidence to support that claim whatsoever. I cannot be clearer. There's no evidence that supports that these are dangerous with any of the clinical evidence we have to date,” said Dr. Adam Friedman.
“There's never been a study that has linked aluminum in deodorant or antiperspirant. I should say more precisely, to any sort of cancer-causing condition, or Alzheimer’s,” said Dr. Corey L. Hartman.
“The truth is, no studies have ever supported that. There's never ever been a link associated. There's no science to support that,” said Dr. Adarsh Mudgil.
Hartman also told us the aluminum used in antiperspirants is safe and not toxic.
“It's not toxic at all. There's nothing about aluminum that causes any toxicity. That's why we have to apply it every day because it really just forms the salt at the most superficial part of that opening that releases the sweat so it's not even absorbed into your bloodstream,” he said.
The National Cancer Institute encourages people who are concerned about their breast cancer risk to talk with their doctor or healthcare provider. Information about risk factors for breast cancer is available through NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).
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