Why do 50% of breast cancers occur in the upper corner of the breast closest to the armpit?
Especially when it didn’t used to be that way?
Before 1990, only 31% of breast cancers occurred in the armpit area, but subsequently, as deodorant and antiperspirant sales increased, so did the proportion of breast cancers in this area to as much as 50-61%.
There seems to be a few things contributing to this. One, our lymph nodes are meant to have lymphatic fluid free flowing between the breast and the armpit, because our lymphatic system removes most of its bacteria, metals, and waste through our armpits. By design, antiperspirants block these ducts (or nodes) preventing from removing these products.
Two, greater DNA abnormalities, as well as significantly higher concentrations of aluminium have been found in the upper quadrants of the breast closer to the armpit than other areas. Deodorants and antiperspirants contain aluminium, shown to have “pro-estrogenic effects on pre-cancerous cells”. Meaning when you use deodorant, waste is being blocked at the armpit, and you’re adding aluminum to that area, which may trigger the growth of abnormal cells. Plus, feeding them the oestrogens in the aluminium (metalloestrogens) they need to grow!
It would also seem, the earlier you start using deodorant and antiperspirants, the more likely you are to get breast cancer earlier in life. For example, if you used antiperspirants and deodorants from age 16, more than three times a week, one study showed you’re more likely to get diagnosed with breast cancer as much as 20 years earlier! But this was only true for women who also shaved their arms 3 or more times per week... so most women!
While aluminium doesn’t absorb much through intact skin, when you shave and strip off the outer layer and add antiperspirant or deodorant you absorb six times the amount of aluminium into your tissues!
European safety authorities, as well as the FDA advise “not to use [antiperspirants or deodorants] on broken or irritated skin”, and the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Australia) note that most brands within Australia will carry this warning on the label. But these warnings are redundant in a culture where most women shave and apply deodorants every day! And because shaving causes skin abrasions, removal of the upper skin layer, and irritation from hair removal, if we follow these recommendations we’d never use deodorants or antiperspirants! Unless of course, you want french underarms (no judgement here).
But what about the smell?
Ironically, deodorants and antiperspirants may actually make us smell more! In this 2014 study, they found an increase the diversity of bacteria on the underarms following daily use of antiperspirant. Markedly, they found “an increase of Actinobacteria”, described as an “unfavorable situation with respect to body odor development”. Meaning daily use of deodorants and antiperspirants actually stimulate odor-producing bacteria! So the more you use them, the more you need them. A business model that seems to be working for what has become a billion dollar industry.
What about safe alternatives?
Natural and safe deodorants are not designed to clog your lymph nodes, do not contain aluminium, but do kill odour producing bacteria and last much longer than conventional deodorants.