Antiperspirants & Deodorants

What are Antisperspirants?

Antiperspirants are products whose primary function is to inhibit perspiration. By inhibiting perspiration, which is a necessary component of the bacterial growth causing malodor, Antiperspirants also act as deodorants. Antiperspirants are classified as Over-The-Counter (OTC) drugs by the FDA because they do prevent sweat formation and normally include an aluminum-based compound as the active ingredient. All Deodorants and Antiperspirants must meet strict safety requirements before they are introduced for consumer use. The active ingredients in Antiperspirants, as OTC drugs, must be approved by the FDA before they are marketed. Deodorant and Antiperspirant ingredients have been extensively evaluated.

What are Deodorants?

Deodorants are personal care products that are applied topically, most commonly on the underarms, to minimize the odor caused by the bacterial breakdown of perspiration. Deodorants are classified as cosmetics by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and typically feature fragrance, formulated into a solid or liquid base.

Can Antiperspirants or Deodorants cause cancer?

The American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute state that there is no evidence linking deodorants or Antiperspirants with cancer. All active ingredients in Antiperspirants are carefully regulated by the FDA to ensure safety and efficacy. According to a study reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (1), there is no proof that the use of a deodorant or antiperspirant causes cancer. A related theory, which suggested that shaving the underarm area increased the risk of deodorant- or antiperspirant-induced breast cancer, was also disproved in the same study conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington. The FDA has dismissed the concern that antiperspirants can cause breast cancer as a “myth.” Similarly, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has said that “no conclusive research” links antiperspirants and breast cancer, though the NCI observed that the results of some studies suggest that additional research is needed. In a National Cancer Institute Fact Sheet, the organization stated that “researchers at the National Cancer Institute are not aware of any conclusive evidence linking the use of underarm Antiperspirants or deodorants and the subsequent development of breast cancer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates food, cosmetics, medicines, and medical devices, also does not have any evidence or research data that ingredients in underarm Antiperspirants or deodorants cause cancer.” American Cancer Society (ACS) announced in a 2003 news release that “there is no proof that the use of Antiperspirants or deodorants causes breast cancer, contrary to widespread rumor.” In 2006, the American Cancer Society again stated that “there is no good evidence to support this claim [linking Antiperspirants and deodorants to breast cancer].” Link to the NCI Fact Sheet: Link to FDA Fact Sheet: Link to ACS 2003 News Release:

Do Antiperspirants and deodorants prohibit the release of harmful toxins through underarm lymph nodes?

Antiperspirants do not have any effect upon lymph nodes. In addition, most toxins in the body are not released through lymph nodes or via perspiration. Most toxins, specifically cancer-causing substances, are removed by the kidneys and liver.


(1) Mirick, D.K., Davis, S., and Thomas, D.B. (2002) Antiperspirant use and the risk of breast cancer. J. Natl Cancer Inst. 94(20):1578-80.