Our intern Ryan wrote an interesting article about synthetic deodorants and how switching to Gamanity's natural deodorant could be a safer alternative to synthetic deodorants. Interested? Then keep on reading!
Gamanity’s Natural Deodorant stick as an alternative to synthetic deodorants to reduce your risk of developing Breast Cancer
A brief history of Synthetic Deodorants
From ancient times to the modern era, humans have sought ways to combat body odour. The journey begins with early attempts using natural substances like perfumes and herbs. However, it was in the late 19th century that the first commercial synthetic deodorant, Mum, emerged. This aluminium-based cream deodorant paved the way for more effective solutions. The introduction of antiperspirants in the early 20th century aimed to address both sweat and odour. Roll-on deodorants gained popularity in the 1950s, followed by aerosol deodorants in the 1960s and 1970s. Solid stick deodorants, similar to those commonly used today, became prevalent in the 1970s.Today the largest corporations producing synthetic deodorants today are Lynx, Dove, Sure, Right Guard among others.
The Prevalence of Breast Cancer
As of 2021, one person dies every 45 minutes of breast cancer in the UK. It is the leading cause of death for women under 50 in the UK. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports in 2020, there were 2.3 million women diagnosed with breast cancer, and 685 000 deaths globally. From 2015 to 2020, 7.8 million women alive, were diagnosed with breast cancer making it the world's most prevalent cancer. The prevalence of breast cancer is expected to double in the UK from 600 000 diagnosed individuals, to 1.2 million by 2030.
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What causes Breast Cancer?
The cause of breast cancer remains a mystery. Our chances of developing breast cancer are largely out of our hands. Scientists are yet to find a significant factor that contributes to the disease.
The WHO advises individuals to adopt a more healthy lifestyle to reduce their chances. This includes reducing alcohol and cigarette consumption, maintaining a healthy weight. Other factors linked to breast cancer include: increased exposure to radiation, reproductive history, genetic factors and postmenopausal hormone therapy.
However the WHO acknowledges this will at best, reduce your risk by 30%. Developing the disease still remains largely out of our hands. This poses a question: what actions can we take to increase that 30%? What other factors could account for the other 70%?
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The Link Between Synthetic Deodorants and Breast Cancer
Developing breast cancer is a real possibility for every woman in the UK, ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’. Our responsibility is to investigate all external factors that contribute to the leading cause of death in the UK.
What do Synthetic Deodorants have to do with any of this? Is probably what you're wondering right now. Unexplained clinical observations show a disproportionately high incidence of breast cancer in the upper outer quadrant of the breast, just the local area to which these cosmetics are applied. Is this a coincidence? Let’s ask science.
K.G McGrath (2003) found ‘frequency and earlier onset of antiperspirant/deodorant usage with underarm shaving were associated with earlier age of breast cancer diagnosis.’ If you’re interested in discovering more about his findings, see the link below.
Find out more here!
The ingredients of Synthetic Deodorants
Example 1: Butane, Isobutane, Propane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Aluminum Sesquichlorohydrate, Parfum, PPG-14 Butyl Ether, Glycine, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Calcium Chloride, BHT, Propylene Carbonate, Dimethiconol, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate, Citronellol, Coumarin, Geraniol, Linalool.
Example 2: Cyclopentasiloxane, Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly,Stearyl Alcohol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, PPG-14 Butyl Ether,Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PEG-8, Parfum, Dimethicone,Polyethylene, Silica, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Steareth-100,BHT, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Benzoate,Benzyl Salicylate, Citronellol, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal,Hydroxycitronellal, Linalool
Example 3: Butane, Isobutane, Propane, PPG-14 Butyl Ether, Aluminum Sesquichlorohydrate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Parfum, Glycine, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Calcium Chloride, Octyldodecanol, BHT, Propylene Carbonate, Dimethiconol, Sodium Starch Octenylsuccinate, Maltodextrin, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Benzoate, Benzyl Salicylate, Citronellol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Linalool.
Just at a glance, we can already begin to ponder whether such an extensive list of chemicals is at all necessary, if our goal is simply to reduce sweating and mask body odour. The average person could be forgiven for thinking this was a formula for a revolutionary nuclear project the US military was working on.
All jokes aside, we can summarise the ingredients of synthetic deodorants as containing: Aluminium Compounds and Salts, Alcohol, Parabens, Propylene Glycol, Triclosan, Phthalates and Fragrance/Parfum
In the following section we will analyse the many risks of such ingredients, and how they may contribute to your risk of developing cancer.
To understand the negative effects of synthetic deodorants, we first need to establish the role of oestrogen in breast cancer development.
Studies have repeatedly shown an increased exposure to oestrogen correlates to an increased risk of breast cancer. One of the roles of oestrogen in the body is to stimulate the growth of breast tissue. Breast cancer cells may have receptors that bind to oestrogen, promoting their growth and division. Most significantly, hormone-positive breast cancer, which accounts for a significant portion of cases, relies on oestrogen. As you will see, synthetic deodorants contain ingredients which mimic the role of oestrogen in the body,
Aluminium is an essential active ingredient in many antiperspirants, as it essentially plugs the sweat gland to minimise perspiration.
Unfortunately however, experimental observations indicate that its long term application may correlate with breast cancer development and progression. This action is proposed to be attributed, among others, to aluminium possible oestrogen-like activities.
Aluminium’s role in breast cancer is evidenced by the detection of aluminium concentrations in breast cyst fluids and nipple aspirate fluid from breast cancer patients.
Research observed that Aluminium Chlorohydrate (ACH) increased the protein levels of ERα (oestrogen receptor alpha) in MCF-7 cells (breast cancer cells) compared to control cells. This increase was partly attributed to the oestrogenic activity of aluminium, as it was abolished in the presence of an oestrogen receptor antagonist.
Additionally studies found that ACH attenuates the effect of E2 (estradiol) on ERα protein levels, potentially indicating an antagonistic interaction between ACH and oestrogen signalling. ACH has also been found to affect a multitude of other gene expressions and subcellular localisation related to breast cancer development.
To put all this wordiness in simpler terms aluminium has a strong influence on oestrogen receptor protein stability.
Aluminium salts induce a remarkable increase in oestrogen receptor protein level possibly via interference with oestrogen receptor gene expression or oestrogen receptor protein stability. This effect may have consequences in breast physiology, affecting oestrogen receptor mediated gene expression via direct or indirect oestrogen receptor DNA binding.
Research is currently unable to conclusively declare aluminium as a factor of breast cancer however it’s correlation with it, and effects on oestrogen activity is undeniable and is corroborated by multiple studies.
If you’re interested in looking into the selected studies further, they are available here:
Parabens are synthetic compounds that are used to control bacteria, fungus and other unwanted microbes. Parabens are less common than aluminium in synthetic deodorants however parabens such as PPG-14 Butyl Ether are commonly found in deodorants such as the Lynx Africa formula listed previously in the article.
Parabens tend to be harder to find in deodorant ingredients as they often undertake different names however keep a keen eye out for Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben and Butylparaben.
Why should you look out for them? Similarly to aluminium, parabens can be absorbed by the skin and can mimic the effects of oestrogen in the body, affecting the endocrine system. Parabens have also been found intact in breast tumour tissue,
More specifically, concerns over parabens in consumer products stem from their potential to mimic hormones, interact with breast cancer-related pathways like HER2 signalling, and affect oestrogen metabolism enzymes.
One study found out of the 22 tissue samples taken at the site of ER + PR + primary cancers, 12 contained a sufficient concentration of one or more paraben to stimulate proliferation of MCF-7 cells (breast cancer cells).
This demonstrates that parabens, either alone or in combination, are present in human breast tissue at concentrations sufficient to stimulate the proliferation of MCF-7 cells in vitro, and that may induce functional consequences in human breast tissue.
Bare in mind, parabens are not only found in cosmetics, but also food preservatives, pharmaceuticals and others. Thus they are found with remarkable frequency in people. One randomised study found almost 100% of collected urine samples contained parabens.
Parfum/Fragrance - Mixture of chemicals that can trigger allergies and asthma. Some are linked to cancer. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that, while many popular perfumes, colognes and body sprays contain trace amounts of natural essences, they also typically contain a dozen or more potentially hazardous synthetic chemicals, some of which are derived from petroleum.
Phthalates - Possibly linked to preterm births in pregnant women as well as asthma. One type was found to be associated with male genital birth defects and reproductive issues in adult men.
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Propylene Glycol - Propylene glycol is used as a penetration enhancer, so if paired with harmful ingredients it could potentially aid the skin’s absorption of those substances. Because of this it may accentuate the negative effects of parabens and aluminium on breast tissue cells.
What can we conclude?
Direct studies of the effects of deodorants on developing breast cancer do not always produce a significant effect, hence we cannot conclusively state that synthetic deodorants are a cause of breast cancer.
BUT… research has consistently displayed significant effects of parabens and aluminium on oestrogen function in breast tissue/cancer cells. Parabens’ and aluminium’s contribution to developing breast cancer has been backed extensively by numerous studies.
It is up to you to decide whether continuing to apply heavy metals and synthetic chemicals to your body is worth the risk.
Alternatives to Synthetic Deodorants: The benefits of Gamanity's Natural Deodorant
At Gamanity, we are dedicated to supporting and empowering women.
Our natural deodorant not only avoids the risks posed by synthetic deodorants, but also actively decreases your risk of developing breast cancer.
The ingredients of our natural deodorant have remarkable health benefits that directly reduce your chances of developing breast cancer.
Our formulation uses a rich Vitamin E blend of Cacao and Tocopherol (Natural vitamin E). One study found there was a 84% and 77% lower risk of breast cancer if the levels of vitamin C and vitamin E were increased by just 1 unit.
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Effectively, our formulation replaces the breast cancer exacerbating synthetics with immune system strengthening ingredients.
We are health obsessed at Gamanity, but we still look to treat our community with a fresh and enticing aroma. Thus our blend provides a delicate citrus scent in combination with a smooth combination of Kaolin, Cacao and Jojoba oil to keep your skin clean, moisturised and free of body odour.
Some things in life are worth the risk and prove insignificant in the bigger picture. However with the ever growing evidence of the potentially fatal consequences of the ingredients within synthetic deodorants, It has become imperative for us, that our community is able to make an informed decision with regards to their health.