Women who use deodorants containing aluminium salts could have an increased risk of breast cancer, researchers have claimed.
They found that prolonged exposure to the substance increased tumour growth in mouse breast tissue, which could then cause cancer to spread to other parts of the body.
Aluminium salts are the active ingredient in many antiperspirants and deodorants that control sweat and associated body odour.
They work by dissolving in sweat and blocking the sweat gland, reducing the amount of moisture on the skin’s surface.
Although the most recent study was conducted in mice, the scientists have warned everyone, particularly women, to avoid using beauty products containing the ingredient.
“I think we should avoid all deodorants containing aluminium salts,” co-author André-Pascal Sappino told The Local.
“And it’s very difficult to be sure that the so-called ‘without aluminium’ brands really are without.”
The oncologist added that he’d like to see aluminium salts banned in the same way asbestos was, but he expects the cosmetics industry to resist this.
“Now the fight will begin. They will act like the tobacco industry and say that proof in human beings is lacking,” he said.
But in a statement given to The Huffington Post UK, Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said women should not alter their deodorant use.
“This study looks specifically at mouse cells grown in the lab and in mice and we need to put its findings in the context of previous research looking at human breast cancer,” she said.
“Studies investigating antiperspirant or deodorant use in women have consistently shown no good evidence of a link to breast cancer. With the current evidence, there is no reason for women to be concerned about using them on account of their breast cancer risk.
“There are, however, established ways that all women can help reduce their risk of the disease, including cutting down on alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise.”
According to Science Media Centre, Professor Paul Pharoah of the University of Cambridge also said women should not be too concerned by the study.
“This study shows that aluminium chloride, a chemical that is a main ingredient of many antiperspirants, can turn normal mouse breast epithelial cells into cancer cells when grown artificially in a culture dish. However, when injected into live mice aluminium chloride only caused cancer in a strain of mice that also had a severe deficiency of the immune system,” he pointed out.
“Injected aluminium chloride did not cause cancer in other more normal strains of mice.
“These results tell us little about the potential for aluminium chloride to cause breast cancer when used normally.”
Due to these limitations, Professor Pharoah said no firm conclusions could be drawn from the study. He added that not all deodorants contain aluminium salts.