Antiperspirants & Breast Cancer Debunking The Myths: Part 3
PROBLEM MYTH #2: The fact that most breast cancers occur in the upper outer quadrant of the breast area, where the lymph nodes are located, is further proof of the link between antiperspirants and breast cancer.
The lymph nodes in the underarm, called axillary nodes, form a chain from the underarm to the collarbone. These lymph nodes are responsible for draining and filtering the lymph from the breasts and surrounding areas, including the neck, the upper arms, and the underarm area before it goes back into the bloodstream.
While it is true that more breast cancers develop in the upper outer quadrant of the breast, it is simply due to the anatomy of the breast.
The four breast quadrants are actually not all the same size. There is more breast tissue in the upper outer quadrant because of a portion of the breast called the “tail of Spence,” which extends upward toward the underarm.
Since there is more breast tissue in this area than in other quadrants, it makes sense that we would also see more cancer in that area. Studies have shown that the number of breast cancers in the upper outer part of the breast is in proportion to the amount of breast tissue in that area.
There is no evidence to suggest that the location of cancers within the breast is related to using antiperspirants. It is also important to remember that breast cancer starts in the breast and spreads to the lymph nodes, not the other way around.
PROBLEM MYTH #3: Men are less likely to develop breast cancer due to antiperspirants because the antiperspirant is caught in their hair and does not get applied to the skin.
The breast is made up mainly of lobules, the glands that can produce milk, ducts, the tiny tubes that carry the milk from the lobules to the nipple and fatty connective tissue.
Until puberty, young boys and girls have a small amount of breast tissue consisting of a few ducts located under the nipple area. At the onset of puberty, a girl's ovaries make female hormones, causing breast ducts to grow, lobules to form at the ends of ducts, and the amount of fatty tissue to increase.
Men and boys normally have low levels of female hormones, so breast tissue does not grow much. Men's breast tissue has ducts, but only a few if any lobules.
Breast cancer is about 100 times less common among men than among women due to two main factors. Firstly, men have much less breast tissue in which the cancers can develop, less tissue means fewer cancers. Secondly, men have less of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone, which can promote breast cancer cell growth.
PROBLEM MYTH #4: Women who apply antiperspirant right after shaving increase the risk further because shaving causes almost imperceptible nicks in the skin which give the chemicals entrance into the body from the armpit area.
Shaving can cause small cuts and irritations in the skin which can increase the risk of infection, but they do not increase the risk of breast cancer.
When you nick yourself shaving you have basically make a little cut in the first two layers of the skin, the epidermis and possibly the upper part of the dermis.
The skin may become more sensitive and more easily irritated by deodorant or antiperspirant, but the nick does not provide a greater path of entry to the breast tissue, sweat glands or lymph nodes.
Researchers have found traces of aluminum in breast tissues and fluids. However, they cannot tell if the aluminum comes from antiperspirant use or from other sources.
Some of the women with higher levels of aluminum in their breast tissue, never even used antiperspirants. Scientists also have found traces of aluminum in blood, bone, muscle, brain, and other tissues.
So, What Was The Point Of All Of This?
The email that I have been discussing, full of incorrect facts and misleading information, has been circulating for over 16 years. Folks have shared it with friends and family and sadly, companies have used this information to sell you their products.
In this age of computer-generated information, we must learn to not rely on unconfirmed emails, internet sites or social media messages for information or advice. Information from the internet often sounds very real because it contains or originally contained some elements of truth. But just like the child’s game of telephone, as the information gets passed around it can quickly and easily become polluted with false or misleading data. Check the facts and make sure that the information is coming from credible sources.
So now you may be thinking, Ida has really lost it--she is telling us that we do not need to use a natural deodorant because antiperspirants are safe to use. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I simply want folks to make good choices for the right reasons. You should buy a natural deodorant because you believe that natural products are a better choice.
The vintage ad on the left implies that no matter how lovely the woman "looks", she will never, ever get the "right man" with the wrong deodorant. WOW! Now, today this ad would not scare any woman into buying this deodorant--in fact, it would more than likely be seen as offensive.
The purpose of advertising is to sell a product, I get that. But if a company feels that their product is better, then promote the product by telling me why it is better!
That’s the pitch—not scare tactics. Using scare tactics to sell a product is a form of manipulation and I do not like being manipulated. Scaring me into buying a product either implies I am not smart enough to understand the real value of the product or that the product actually has no real value at all.
Because so much of this misinformation was based on faulty research, I have also written a blog entitled "How To Evaluate Scientific Research" that may help you on your own journey to delve into research studies.