Dr Philippa D Darbre,
Senior Lecturer in Oncology, The University of Reading.
Primary field is toxic causes
found in breast tumors
12:24 12 January 04
NewScientist.com news service
Preservative chemicals found
in samples of breast tumours
probably came from underarm deodorants, UK scientists have claimed.
Their analysis of 20 breast tumours found high concentrations of para-hydroxybenzoic acids (parabens) in 18 samples.
Parabens can mimic the hormone
estrogen, which is known to play a role in the development of
breast cancers. The preservatives are used in many cosmetics and some
foods to increase their shelf-life.
"From this research it is not possible to say whether parabens actually caused these tumours, but they may certainly be associated with the overall rise
in breast cancer cases," says
Philip Harvey, an editor of the Journal of Applied Toxicology, which published the research.
"Given that breast cancer
is the largest killer of women and a very high percentage of young women use underarm deodorants, I think we should be carrying out properly funded, further investigations into parabens and where they are found in the body," Harvey
told New Scientist.
The new research was led by molecular biologist
Philippa Darbre, at the University of Reading. She says that the ester-bearing form of parabens found in the tumours indicates it came from something
applied to the skin, such
as an underarm deodorant, cream
or body spray. When parabens
are eaten, they are metabolised and lose the ester group, making them less strongly estrogen-mimicking.
"One would expect tumours
to occur evenly, with 20 per cent arising in each of the five areas of the breast," Darbre told New Scientist. "But these results help explain why up to 60 per cent of all breast tumours are found in just
one-fifth of the breast - the upper-outer quadrant, nearest the underarm."...........
A small survey by New Scientist of three
British high street shops and one supermarket found deodorants in each that contained parabens, although most of these products did not. However, many other products used under the arm commonly contained
parabens, such as body sprays, hair removal creams and shaving gels. Body
lotions, face creams, cleansers and shampoos also frequently contained parabens.
Previously published studies have shown that parabens
are able to be absorbed through the skin and to bind to the body's estrogen-receptors, where they can encourage breast cancer cell growth.
But Flower maintains that the amount of parabens absorbed by the skin is very low and the parabens are "metabolised
by the skin cells to produce products that have no estrogenic activity"........
Dr. Darbre says she has not
used cosmetic products, including underarm deodorants, for eight years.
She recommends that other women
do the same"until their safety can be established".
Journal reference: Journal of Applied Toxicology (vol 24, p5)
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