JOURNAL ARTICLE

An earlier age of breast cancer diagnosis related to more frequent use of antiperspirants/deodorants and underarm shaving

K G McGrath
European Journal of Cancer Prevention 2003, 12 (6): 479-85
14639125
Breast cancer incidence suggests a lifestyle cause. A lifestyle factor used near the breast is the application of antiperspirants/deodorants accompanied by axillary shaving. A previous study did not support a link with breast cancer. If these habits have a role in breast cancer development, women using antiperspirants/deodorants and shaving their underarms frequently would be expected to have an earlier age of diagnosis than those doing so less often. An earlier age of diagnosis would also be expected in those starting to use deodorants and shaving at an earlier age. This is the first study to investigate the intensity of underarm exposure in a cohort of breast cancer survivors. Four hundred and thirty-seven females diagnosed with breast cancer were surveyed. Once grouped by their frequency of underarm hygiene habits, the mean age of diagnosis was the primary end point. Secondary end points included the overall frequency of these habits, and potential usage group confounding variables were evaluated. All statistical tests were two-sided. Frequency and earlier onset of antiperspirant/deodorant usage with underarm shaving were associated with an earlier age of breast cancer diagnosis. Combined habits are likely for this earlier age of diagnosis. In conclusion, underarm shaving with antiperspirant/deodorant use may play a role in breast cancer. It is not clear which of these components are involved. Reviewed literature insinuates absorption of aluminium salts facilitated by dermal barrier disruption. Case-controlled investigations are needed before alternative underarm hygiene habits are suggested.

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