There are concerns about the health effects of exposure to aluminum, including that found in most antiperspirants. The Aluminum Association states "there is no evidence that normal day-to-day use of aluminum products - whether in food, cookware, drinking water, deodorant, medicines or cosmetics - causes any adverse health effects."
However, aluminum workers are at heightened risk for neurologic disorders, indicating that there is a level of exposure at which aluminum is a powerful neurotoxin. Aluminum also appears to be a breast carcinogen. The question for breast cancer survivors and those at high risk is whether routine daily use of aluminum-containing antiperspirants contributes to breast cancer risk.
Now a new study has reported that aluminum salts can damage DNA and compromise the functioning of tumor suppressor genes (including BRCA1 and BRCA2) in normal breast cells.
Antiperspirants containing aluminum salts are generally more effective in reducing sweat than products without aluminum. However, it would be worth trying one or more of the available aluminum-free products, which might be adequate for many women, especially as they age.
Given the increase in inflammation induced by aluminum, inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) patients should probably entirely avoid using aluminum-containing antiperspirants and deodorants. Based on the results of the study described below, BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers are also best off avoiding such products, even after mastectomy.

Latest research finds aluminum can damage DNA

The study referenced at the beginning of this news story was designed to investigate the effects in non-cancerous breast cells of exposure to aluminum salts commonly used in antiperspirants. To conduct the study, the authors used MCF-10A immortalized non-transformed human breast epithelial cells. Both aluminum chlorohydrate and aluminum chloride were found to interfere with DNA repair systems in MCF-10A cells. Long-term (defined as 19 to 21 weeks) exposure to aluminum chlorohydrate and aluminum chloride caused lowered levels of BRCA1 mRNA and BRCA1 protein. BRCA1 (breast cancer susceptibility gene-1) is a tumor suppressor gene. Mutations in BRCA1 and other tumor suppressor genes can cause carriers to have relatively high lifetime risks of developing breast and other cancers. Reduced levels of mRNA for other DNA repair genes (including BRCA2, CHK1, CHK2, Rad51, and ATR) were also observed.
As noted above, loss of BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene function is associated with increased susceptibility to breast cancer. Harmful BRCA mutations have a strong heredity component. However, the study results suggest that exposure to aluminum-based salts in antiperspirants can also reduce levels of these vital components of DNA repair in breast cells. The authors conclude that aluminum has the potential to influence breast carcinogenesis since aluminum can not only damage DNA but also compromise DNA repair systems.
Please see our personal care products tag for more information concerning consumer products that could influence breast cancer risk or survival.