December 1999


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Mykol Larvie <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 13 Dec 1999 12:09:59 -0500
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Eric Entemann <[log in to unmask]> writes:

> Dear SftP folks -- The following posting about antiperspirants has the
> ring of hokeyness.  *No* evidence is cited for the rather remarkable
> claim that antiperspirants are the "leading cause" of breast cancer.
> Any comments from cancer researchers?

I'm not a cancer researcher, but I do work in the biomedical sciences
and have a little background to evaluate such things.  I can't offer
_evidence_ in opposition to the claim, either.  However, this warning
has been circulating for a couple of years with many different
attributions.  I have never seen evidence that antiperspirant causes
breast cancer, and the theory propounded in the warning, that
carcinogenic toxins are secreted through sweat glands, is essentially
baseless.  If the mechanism stated were true, I suppose we should see
not just breast cancer, but skin and lung cancers, angiosarcomas,
myosarcomas, osteosarcomas and such in the entire region, which does not
seem to be the case.  Antiperspirant is most certainly not regarded by
"mainstream" cancer researchers to be the leading cause of breast
cancer, but take that for what it's worth.

There has been some concern that a common active ingredient in
antiperspirant, aluminum chlorohydrate, is harmful; I think this is
mostly derivative from the concern about aluminum as a cause of
Alzheimer's disease.  It has not been substantively proven that aluminum
has any causative effect with respect to Alzheimer's disease, nor is
aluminum otherwise known to cause any other specific disease following
exposure in trace amounts.  So, while I'm not saying aluminum
chlorohydrate, or antiperspirants generally, are safe, I don't know of
any evidence against them.

With that said, I'd like to chip in a word of support for a lifestyle
which does not depend on needless products, such as antiperspirants,
regardless of their safety.



Mykol Larvie                                         [log in to unmask]               [log in to unmask]

      "It would be a worthy aim in life, I think, to try and bring
          the lower classes to their senses.  The educated and
       upper classes are too deeply committed to wrongheadedness
           to make the attempt worthwhile." -- Auberon Waugh