Switzerland is slated to become the first country to ban deodorants that contain aluminum salts. This, following results of a 2016 study indicating that the toxic chemicals may play a role in breast cancer onset.
The country’s National Council voted 126 to 58 in favor of approving a bill instructing the Federal Council to consider banning aluminum salts from being used in antiperspirant. The measure also urges that Federal Council to commission research that would prove a causal relationship between deodorant use and increased breast cancer risk.
Aluminum salts are the active ingredients used in the manufacturing of many antiperspirant and deodorant products in the market, which help prevent excessive sweating and stave off body odor. The toxic chemical works by dissolving in sweat and blocking the sweat gland.
In turn, the chemical lessens the amount of moisture present in the skin. However, such an effect was also found to promote a build up in breast tissue. Most antiperspirant and deodorant products contain this cancer-causing chemical, researchers noted.
Breast cancer remains to be the most prevalent type of cancer among women worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported. According to WHO’s 2013 Global Health Estimates, more than 508,000 women all over the world died of breast cancer in 2011 alone.
The organization also noted that while breast cancer was previously thought to be more prevalent in developed countries, nearly half of breast cancer cases and 58 percent of deaths occurred in less developed nations.
Details of the deodorant-breast cancer study
A study published in the International Journal of Cancer in September last year served as a primary catalyst for Switzerland’s latest move to ban the use of aluminum salts in deodorant production. As part of the study, a team of researchers from the University of Geneva examined the effects of the toxic chemicals on mice.
The research team found that prolonged exposure to the hazardous chemical was associated with tumor growth in the animals’ breast tissue. This could also trigger cancer to metastasize to other parts of the body, the research team cautioned.
A researcher warned that people, especially women, should avoid using products that contained aluminum salts. Likewise, he urged that the chemical be prohibited in the same manner as asbestos.
“I think we should avoid all deodorants containing aluminium salt. And it’s very difficult to be sure that the so-called ‘without aluminium’ brands really are without… Asbestos is cheap, has very attractive industrial potential, and it took 50 years to ban it. We hope it doesn’t take so long to ban aluminium salts,” study co-author André-Pascal Sappino was quoted in saying in TheLocal.ch.
However, an outside expert refuted the study’s claim, and pointed out a significant pitfall of the research: It being conducted in animal models. The expert also noted that the findings should not affect the use of deodorants and antiperspirants among women.
“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. 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,” Breast Cancer Now chief executive Baroness Delyth Morgan said in HuffingtonPost.co.uk.