Do antiperspirants cause breast cancer?

Person choosing between deodorant bottles on a shelf

The claim

Antiperspirants may cause breast cancer because they:

  • stop your body from sweating and keep toxins inside your body
  • are applied near lymph nodes
  • contain aluminum
Person choosing between deodorant bottles on a shelf

The truth

There is no evidence that the use of antiperspirants increases your risk for breast cancer.

It’s true that antiperspirants stop perspiration (sweating), but the main purpose of perspiration is to cool your body – not to get rid of toxins. Lymph nodes in the armpits clear some toxins from your body, but your liver and kidneys play a bigger role. Far more toxins are removed by your kidneys and liver than through sweating.

Most breast cancers develop in the upper, outer quadrant of the breast near the armpit. But that’s because this area has a lot of breast tissue, not because lymph nodes are there.

Some antiperspirants and deodorants contain aluminum. Your doctor may tell you not to wear deodorant containing aluminum when you go for a screening mammogram. The aluminum could show up on the mammogram images and lead to an inaccurate result by making breast cancers and other abnormalities harder to find. But there is no link between aluminum and breast cancer risk.

If you’re concerned about the ingredients in your personal care products, look for products with fewer ingredients and learn about those ingredients.

The Canadian Cancer Society is committed to sharing important information about cancer risk to Canadians and will continue to monitor research in this area.

Learn more about the risk factors for breast cancer.