Back when puberty first hit all those years ago, you probably started a regimen of good hygiene that included washing your face regularly to prevent pimples, shaving when necessary (yes, girls too), and using deodorant to keep body odor at bay. Now we have to start wondering about the price we may pay for good grooming since a new study has found one of the components of deodorant in breast cancer tissues. And no, I'm not talking about aluminum.1,2
There has been a lot of suspicion about parabens, xenoestrogenic preservatives commonly used in not only deodorants but also cosmetics, pharmaceutical products, and even some foods, since more than a decade's worth of research has found links between them and breast cancer. Parabens are estrogenic in nature and estrogen is an essential factor in breast cancer occurrences.
In this study, which took place at the University of Reading in England, the scientists tested tissue samples from 40 women in England between 2005 and 2008 who were being treated for breast cancer and having mastectomies.3 They took four samples from each participant, for a total of 160 overall samples to work with. There was at least one paraben present in an astounding 99 percent of the samples. And 60 percent of the samples contained a whopping five parabens.
Parabens are prevalent in many deodorants, but it is possible that deodorants are not the only -- or even the main -- culprit. Some of the women who volunteered for the study told the researchers they were not deodorant users. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that they never used deodorant. It's possible that they stopped some time ago because of potential risk factors, which would suggest the parabens made their way into the tissue and stuck around for quite some time to do their damage.
However, another possibility is that the parabens are coming from another source. More research is clearly required on the subject, but it may be difficult to pin down exactly what is leaching parabens into our bodily tissue, since they are a component of practically everything these days. Aside from deodorant, they are also present in many moisturizers, shaving creams, toothpastes, shampoos, and makeup products. We also ingest parabens when we eat certain processed meats such as sausages. Yet another reason to stay away from processed foods. And even if you use paraben free products, you're not safe. When somebody else uses paraben shampoo or toothpaste or whatever, it washes down the drain and into your municipal water supply. Unfortunately, unless your municipal water department uses ozonation, they're not treating for parabens when cleaning up your water.
How do we keep ourselves safe from this seemingly ubiquitous chemical? For starters, look for all natural products labeled paraben-free. The less of it we are swiping and slathering onto our bodies, the better. But until manufacturers decide that safety should come before profits, chemicals such as parabens will always be around to some extent. We need to protect ourselves as best we can to avoid accumulation of high potency estrogen-mimicking xenoestrogens such as parabens and balance out the hormones in our bodies before they can promote the unrestrained cell growth that leads to cancer.
From the onset of puberty, every woman should consider supplementation with a natural progesterone crème. Virtually every woman who lives in an industrialized country is at high risk of estrogen dominance because of exposure to xenoestrogens since they are now present in massive amounts in our food chain, water supply, and environment.
The only natural balancer to excessive estrogen in the body is natural progesterone. But what about the synthetic "progestins" that your doctor may recommend? Progesterone is a natural substance, and as such cannot be patented. The pharmaceutical companies, therefore, have to modify it slightly. They create a new molecule that does not exist in nature. This modified, synthetic form of progesterone carries a whole range of serious side effects including depression, birth defects, increased body hair, acne, and more. On the other hand supplementation with natural progesterone has no known side effects. It is equally important for women menstruating and those post-menopausal.
We all have to do what we can to improve our chances against potentially harmful additives such as parabens. Another good pre-emptive strike includes avoiding products that contain them, cutting back on all of our synthetic makeup and creams, and balancing out the hormones in our bodies naturally with supplementation. And make sure to treat the water coming into your house. Distillers, reverse osmosis systems, and activated charcoal filters can all remove parabens from your drinking water. But only a whole house filter will remove them from your bath and shower. If you don't have a whole house filter, you want to add a location specific shower or bath filter at each tub. Hopefully this combination will do the job, thwarting major health hazards in the future.
1 Darbre PD. "Aluminium, antiperspirants and breast cancer." J Inorg Biochem. 2005 Sep;99(9):1912-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16045991
2 Philippa D Darbre. "Underarm antiperspirants/deodorants and breast cancer." Breast Cancer Res. 2009; 11(Suppl 3): S5. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2797685/>
3 Bates, Claire. "Chemical found in deodorants, face cream and food products is discovered in tumours of ALL breast cancer patients." MailOnline. 12 January 2012. Daily Mail. (Accessed 19 January 2012). <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2085585/Parabens-Chemical-everyday-items-needs-investigation-scientists-discover-tumours-ALL-breast-cancer-patients.html>.