Possible Link Between Personal Care Products, Breast Cancer Studied
January 14, 2012

Possible Link Between Personal Care Products, Breast Cancer Studied

Researchers are once again investigating a possible link between a widely used chemical preservative and cancer, as a new study has found the substance present in the tissues of 40 women suffering from breast cancer, according to various media reports.

The chemicals in question are known as parabens and are used in deodorants, cosmetics, food products, and pharmaceuticals, according to WebMD and the Daily Mail. When they enter the human body, parabins act like the hormone estrogen, which has been linked to certain types of breast cancer.

Furthermore, many types of breast cancers develop in the area of the breast that is closes to the armpit, when antiperspirants and similar underarm products are used, WebMD's Denise Mann wrote on Friday.

According to Kathleen Doheny of USA Today HealthDay, British researchers, including Dr. Philippa Darbre of the University of Reading in the UK, examined breast tissue samples from 40 women who had mastectomies.

"They found 96 samples contained all five of the most common paraben esters (forms)," Doheny said, adding that the paraben levels detected "were higher, by about four times, than Darbre found when she did a similar but smaller study in 2004."

Out of 160 total samples taken, trace levels of parabens were found in 158 of them, including in some taken from women who said they had never used underarm products. That means that the chemicals have to have originated from a different source, says Claire Bates of the Daily Mail.

As Mann points out, the study, which was published online this month in the Journal of Applied Toxicology, does not prove that personal care products can actually cause breast cancer.

However, as Darbre told WebMD, "the fact that parabens were present in so many of the breast tissue samples does justify further investigation."

She also suggested that women reduce or eliminate the use of cosmetic products, telling Doheny, "We simply use too much in the modern world -- too much for our body systems and too much for the wider environment."


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