Chemicals in both men's and women's antiperspirants and deodorants could be doing a lot more than just covering up BO.
The next time you reach for that stick of roll-on deodorant, consider this: A recent study in the Journal of Applied Toxicology found that chemicals commonly used in deodorants were showing up in breast-cancer tumors, leading the authors to suspect that they may play some role in the development of the disease. Those same chemicals have been linked to sperm damage in men, and because of evidence that they can be absorbed through your skin, there's more reason than ever to ditch the plastic tube.
The chemicals in question are the preservatives parabens, which are added to personal care products and some processed foods to prevent bacterial growth. Though they aren't as well researched as chemicals like BPA, "parabens are estrogenic," says Lynn Carroll, PhD, senior scientist at The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, a nonprofit that researches hormone-mimicking chemicals. And they build up in breast milk. "That is concerning because whoever's eating the breast milk gets a dose, and those children are at a very vulnerable stage in their development."
Too much estrogen in your system can be responsible not just for breast cancer, but for other dangerous conditions such as malignant melanoma (ironic, considering that parabens are commonly used in sunscreens) and male reproductive disorders. A November 2010 study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that parabens can damage sperm in mice.
In this most recent study, researchers from the University of Reading, in the UK, collected 160 samples of breast tissue taken from women who'd had mastectomies and tested them for the presence of five different parabens. At least one form of paraben was present in 99 percent of the tissue samples, and all five were present in 60 percent of the samples. What was concerning, the authors added, was that one paraben, propylparaben, existed in much higher levels in the axilla region of the breast, the area closest to the armpit, which is the area where, according to the authors, a high percentage of tumors are found.
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