The breast cancer-antiperspirant ‘myth’ …that isn’t

The following article was first published on Dec. 5, 2005 on CBS News by Sharyl Attkisson. The video version has been lost along the way, but the print version is preserved.

If you’ve checked out the back of your antiperspirant lately, you might have noticed something different: new labels required by the Food and Drug Administration. They point out that antiperspirants are “drugs” containing “aluminum” ingredients — that’s what stops the sweat. 

The aluminum is also what concerns some people, including Dr. Kris McGrath.

“I personally feel there is a very strong correlation between the underarm hygiene habits and breast cancer,” McGrath tells CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.

McGrath, an immunologist and instructor at Northwestern University, has been intrigued by a potential breast cancer link since medical school.

It got personal when his wife — a frequent shaver and antiperspirant user — got breast cancer.

“She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987,” McGrath says. “She died in 1989.” 

People who don’t believe in a link point to this 2002 study that finds no connection. 

But it didn’t take into account how often a woman shaved and used antiperspirant, which McGrath considered crucial. So he did his own study of breast cancer patients and found this: The more these women shaved and used antiperspirants, the sooner they got breast cancer.

Is he trying to say all cases of breast cancer could be linked to antiperspirants and shaving?

“Absolutely not,” McGrath says. “Breast cancer has existed since Hippocrates. But when you plot the sales of antiperspirant deodorants with the incidence of breast cancer in the United States, they both have grown in almost a parallel fashion.”

It’s not conclusive proof, but enough, McGrath says, to call for large-scale studies.

Rumors of a link between antiperspirants, shaving and breast cancer have circulated for years, but had been written off as an urban myth by most people — including the FDA’s Web site which calls it a “…false…scary stories…” CBS News tried to ask the FDA whether the case really is closed, but they wouldn’t let Attkisson interview any of their experts. 

Instead, they seemed to shift from the “myth” status, telling CBS News: “FDA is aware of concerns that antiperspirant use (in conjunction with underarm shaving) may be associated with increased risk of developing breast cancer. FDA continues to search scientific literature for studies examining this possible adverse drug effect. Unfortunately, there are many publications that discuss the issue, but very few studies in which data has been collected and analyzed. Overall, the studies (containing data) are inconclusive in determining whether antiperspirants, in any way, contribute to the development of breast cancer. FDA hopes that definitive studies exploring breast cancer incidence and antiperspirant use will be conducted in the near future.”

The billion-dollar antiperspirant industry says the products are undeniably safe.

“Has this issue been definitively laid to rest?” Attkisson asks John Bailey, a director of cosmetic chemistry as the cosmetic toiletry and fragrance association.

“I think the products are safe and I think that the best science is being applied to making that determination that they’re safe,” Bailey says.

“But you’re not saying yes or no,” Attkisson says.

“It’s not a yes or no answer,” Bailey replies.

The National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society agree a link can’t be conclusively ruled out. But they say there’s no reason to throw out your antiperspirant in fear. Read the Cancer Institute’s fact sheet.

McGrath advises his patients to consider the uncertainties. At least one of them thinks the government ought to go public and admit the breast cancer antiperspirant myth might not be a myth after all.

“I think the government should take an honest stand and say if they’re not sure, so that women have the right to know and that they can make their own choice,” says Michelle Bibergal.

Footnote: Today, many propaganda medical websites, doctors, authors, media personalities, news sites, and public health officials falsely insist the link between antiperspirants and breast cancer has been debunked.

CBS News link to the story

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7 thoughts on “The breast cancer-antiperspirant ‘myth’ …that isn’t”

  1. Many European women do not shave their armpits, and they may or may not use anti-perspirant.
    How does Europe compare to the U.S. on breast cancer?

  2. Sharyl and Full Measure Team,

    Recall my post concerning lack
    of sufficient IODINE being CAUSE
    of most human cancers ( acidic,
    sugar-filled diet not withstanding ).

    Aluminum has been known to
    be POISON from the 1930s
    forward (( I began making our
    own anti-perspirant in the early
    70s—using information from Seer
    Edgar Cayce’s readings, and who
    had warned against aluminum
    therein )).

    Aluminum Snow (( Chemtrails are POISON )) :


      1. P.P.S.

        Strange how – for decades now ! –
        conservative senators/congressmen
        NEVER look up when outside :

        Forwarded Message :


        Re : Weather Wars

        “ A N G E L S don’t PLAY this HAARP, “ by Dr. Nick Begich and Jeanne Manning (1995)

        Page 176 :

        “In 1966, [ Geophysicist Gordon J. ] MacDonald was a member of the President’s Science Advisory Committee and later a member of the President’s Council on Environmental Quality. He published papers on the use of environmental control technologies for MILITARY PURPOSES [ my emphasis ]. The most profound comment he made as a geophysicist was :

        ‘The key to geophysical warfare is the
        identification of environmental insta-
        bilities to which the addition of a small
        amount of energy would release vastly
        greater amounts of energy.’

        “While yesterday’s geophysicists predicted today’s advances, the HAARP program managers ARE DELIVERING [ my emphasis ] on the vision.”

        Think of Kentucky’s unusual Tornado storms!—and Boulder
        County Colorado’s ( not-climate-change-caused ) fires . . .
        and HAARP technicians playing deadly games with U.S. lives,
        so that dumb-as-a-box-of-bent-nails Climate Nazis ( Al Gore )
        can PROFIT from our lack of vigilance.


  3. antiperspirant is bad to begin with, it prevents your body to let out the sweat, and the elements that are in it. Aluminium is not good to cook in, but they put it in beauty products and then in injections.
    There are natural products available to use for underarm sweating. And there is always water. Washing with water frequently does an even better job.

  4. Have the scientists actually measured to see if the aluminum penetrates into breast tissue? If it doesn’t it seems unlikely that it does harm there.

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