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Can deodorant give you breast cancer? Dr Cuterus busts this myth

Published on:15 June 2021, 18:37pm IST
For the longest time, we’ve heard that deodorants cause breast cancer. But is there any truth to it? Dr Tanaya Narendra, famously known as dr_cuterus on Instagram, tells us all about it.
Geetika Sachdev
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deodorant and breast cancer
Deodorant does not give you breast cancer. Period. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Rumours and misinformation are rampant, especially in the world of health and fitness. And if there’s one that’s been floating around for generations — it is that deodorants cause breast cancer. This is exactly what Dr Tanaya Narendra aka dr_cuterus speaks about in her latest post on Instagram. As always, she has busted a myth to educate her audiences, and make them more informed choices. 

Here’s what she wrote in her Instagram post, “I’m sure you’ve heard of this rumour that #deodorants cause breast cancer. I’m even more sure you’ve seen some brand selling pretty expensive #natural or #aluminiumfree deodorant. There is nothing wrong with buying and using naturally derived products (I use lots myself), but don’t let yourself be fooled into #bullshit reasons for why you should buy the more expensive product. Understand the science, and protect yourself from being befooled.”

Here’s why this rumour is false

There have been several studies that have been conducted to understand the link between the use of deodorants and occurrence of breast cancer. And none of them found any such association between the two! Dr Narendra went on to explain that this rumour has its origin in the 1990s, when some emails went around claiming that “applying deodorant on freshly shaved underarm skin causes breast cancer. Shaving creates small cuts in the skin, and the deodorant you apply gets absorbed into your lymph nodes, which you can’t get rid of because the deodorant prevents you from sweating.”

deodorant and breast cancer
Breast cancer is even more common now. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

This claim is absolutely FALSE. Dr Narendra says that lymph nodes are a part of the immune system – they help your body filter the microbes and bad guys (including the cancer cells). Lymph nodes are connected to each other using a superhighway inside your body, but they are not connected to your sweat glands. Antiperspirants block your sweat glands, and not your lymph nodes.

Secondly, several studies show that very little aluminium is absorbed through the skin. According to a particular study, it is 0.012 percent. “The reason why aluminum makes for a good antiperspirant is because it stays on the surface of the skin, and does not get absorbed. For a substance to cause cancer, it should enter the body in high enough doses to be problematic. And the teeny-tiny amount in your roll-on is not enough.”

“To really purge your body from aluminium, you’ll need to do a lot more like saying goodbye to aluminium foil and cookware. Also, tobacco and marijuana are known to contain aluminium,” she adds. 

So ladies, don’t give up on the deodorant at all! It doesn’t give you breast cancer in any way.

Geetika Sachdev Geetika Sachdev

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town.