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Warning over link between deodorants and breast cancer

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  • Warning over link between deodorants and breast cancer

    Jo Revill, health editor
    Sunday January 11, 2004
    The Observer

    A controversial study which suggests a potential link between a common chemical found in cosmetics and deodorants and breast cancer is published this week.

    Researchers looked at 20 human breast tumours and found synthetic chemicals known as parabens in 18 of them, with high concentrations in four of the malignancies.

    It is the first time parabens have been detected within tumours, suggesting that the man-made chemicals have accumulated in the breast tissue after being absorbed through the skin.

    But the study raises more questions than it answers, and cancer charities last night urged caution over the results, stressing that they did not prove a link between the cosmetics, deodorants or antiperspirants and the development of cancer.

    The study, published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology , did not show if the chemicals are also found in healthy women's breasts, or what role they might play, if any, in the growth of tumours.

    Parabens are synthetic chemicals used to preserve goods from cosmetics such as face cream, foundation and face masks through to the methyl and propyl forms of the chemical as food preservatives. They are also used industrially in oils, fats, shoe polish and glues.

    Dr Philippa Darbre, cancer researcher at the University of Reading, who carried out the study said: 'Finding these chemicals in human breast tumours does matter, because we know from other work that they can mimic the way oestrogen works to drive the growth of cancer.

    'This is the first step; we need to see whether the chemicals are present in the healthy tissue and, if so, what the concentration levels are. But we have detected these intact molecules and I don't think it can be ignored.

    'For years people have said there is no way they could enter the body because of our physiology, but I think it is to do with a physical overload of chemicals and that some are being absorbed by the skin. Women managed for centuries without these materials and it has to be asked if we really need them now.'

    However, some of her previous research has been dismissed by scientists who believe there is no clear evidence that the chemicals are linked to breast cancer.

    Instead, they blame an increase in obesity and women having children later in life as the main reasons for the rise in breast cancer cases, from 20,000 cases in the late 1970s to almost 40,000 cases a year now.

    Darbre has carried out other studies which she says show a link between deodorants and cancer. Previously she looked at aluminium and zirconium contained in the materials, which she suggested would have an effect on the DNA controlling cancer growth.

    For years, there have been concerns over whether deodorants or antiperspirants could cause the cancer, although often the rumours seemed to be more urban myth than reality.

    Scientists have explained that physiologically it would be very hard for the chemicals to penetrate to the breast, as the lymph glands would usually clear away any toxins.

    Dr Philip Harvey, European Editor of the Journal of Applied Toxicology, said the results should be interpreted with caution. He added that the finding was important because it showed that 'these oestrogenic chemicals can be detected in the breast and are therefore absorbed'.

    Karol Sikora, professor of oncology at Imperial College London, said: 'We are all exposed to all kinds of chemicals, but it doesn't mean they all cause cancer. The question is whether the chemicals would have an impact on the hormones, and also what level you would see in a healthy breast tissue.'

    Dr Richard Sullivan, Head of Clinical Programmes at Cancer Research UK, agreed: 'It should be noted that the sample size is very small. No causal relationship has ever been found between underarm cosmetics containing parabens and breast cancer.'

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/medicine/s...120502,00.html
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  • #2
    Muslim women from S Asia at greater risk of breast cancer

    IANS[ SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2004 11:18:29 AM ]

    LONDON : Medical trials in Britain have revealed that Muslim women from India and Pakistan are almost twice as likely to develop breast cancer than Gujarati Hindu women.

    Experts at Cancer Research UK found during trials in West Midlands that the trend may be caused by differences such as diet and body size between the two groups of women.

    More than 700 first generation Asian women from the West Midlands and London , including 240 women who had been treated for breast cancer, took part in the study led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

    The women were categorised as Gujarati Hindu, Punjabi Hindu, Punjabi Sikh, Pakistani and Indian Muslim, or Bangladeshi Muslim.

    The results, published in this week's British Journal of Cancer , found that, in general, South Asian women living in England were less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than their native English counterparts.

    However, researchers believe this hides a more complicated picture as Pakistani and Indian Muslim women are nearly twice as likely to develop breast cancer than their Gujarati Hindu counterparts.

    Researchers also examined factors known to have an effect on breast cancer risk to explain these differences.

    Valerie McCormack, the study's lead author, said: "We already know that women who have children at younger ages, who have more children and who Breast feed their children are at a lower risk of breast cancer.

    "We did find differences in reproductive factors between the five groups but they did not explain the different rates of breast cancer."

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/a...how/416366.cms
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    • #3
      Differences in breast cancer risk in South Asian women

      January 11, 2004
      Reported by Susan Aldridge, PhD, medical journalist

      The risk of breast cancer among South Asian women differs according to their ethnic subgroup, according to a new study.
      It's long been assumed that women from South Asia have a low risk of breast cancer. This may not be so, according to researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. They interviewed over 700 first-generation South Asian women from the West Midlands and London, including 240 who had been treated for breast cancer.

      The women were categorized as being either Gujarati Hindu, Punjabi Hindu, Punjabi Sikh, Pakistani and Indian Muslim, or Bangladeshi Muslim. In general the women were somewhat less likely to develop breast cancer than their native English counterparts.

      But within the South Asian community, Pakistani and Indian Muslim women are nearly twice as likely to develop breast cancer than Gujarati Hindu women. The researchers say that Pakistani and Indian Muslim women were more likely to have more children and to have their first child at a younger age than the other South Asian women. These factors have been found to be protective against breast cancer, yet in this study these women have higher rates of the disease. The answer may lie in diet - Hindu women are more likely to be vegetarian and this may be linked to their lower cancer rates. They also have smaller waistlines, which could be due to more physical activity. Together these factors might explain the findings.

      The incidence of breast cancer in South Asian women is rising faster in Britain than in other ethnic groups. Yet these women are less likely to attend for screening. This study suggests that all women, whatever their ethnic origin, should be aware of breast cancer risk and the need for screening.

      Source:
      British Journal of Cancer 6th January 2004 Volume 90

      http://www.healthandage.com/Home/gm=1!gid1=5365
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      • #4
        Variations in Asian cancer risk

        Last Updated: Friday, 9 January, 2004, 23:38 GMT

        The risk of breast cancer varies greatly among South Asian women in the UK depending on their specific ethnic subgroup, researchers have found.

        They found Muslim women from India and Pakistan have twice the risk of Gujarati Hindu women.

        The researchers, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, think the difference may be due to lifestyle factors such as diet and body size.

        The research is published in the British Journal of Cancer.

        The researchers interviewed more than 700 first-generation South Asian women from the West Midlands and the London area, including 240 women who had been treated for breast cancer.

        The women were categorised as Gujarati Hindu, Punjabi Hindu, Punjabi Sikh, Pakistani and Indian Muslim, or Bangladeshi Muslim.

        The researchers found that, in general, South Asian women living in England are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than their native-English counterparts - but the risk varied depending on ethnic group.

        The women were asked about their diet, level of exercise, family history of breast cancer and reproductive factors such as how many children they had and whether they breast fed their children.

        risk factors

        Lead researcher Dr Valerie McCormack said: "We already know that women who have children at younger ages, who have more children and who breast feed their children are at a lower risk of breast cancer.

        "We did find differences in reproductive factors between the five groups but they did not explain the different rates of breast cancer.

        "Pakistani and Indian Muslim women, on average, had their first child at younger ages and had more children than Gujarati Hindu women, but despite this, their breast cancer risk was higher.

        "But we did find some clues when we examined the women's diet and body size.

        "Compared to Pakistani and Indian Muslim women, the Gujarati Hindu women in this study were more likely to be vegetarian and therefore have more fibre in their diet from a higher intake of fruit and vegetables.

        "On average they also had smaller waistlines which is probably the result of more physical activity.

        "Together these may explain the lower rate of breast cancer in this group."

        Research suggests that incidence of breast cancer is rising faster in South Asians than in other ethnic groups in the UK and South Asian women are less likely to go for breast screening.

        'common disease'

        Professor Robert Souhami, of Cancer Research UK, said: "In light of this new research, and with the recent rise in breast cancer in this group, characterising all South Asian women as 'low risk' would seem to be misleading and potentially dangerous.

        "Breast cancer is a common disease and we encourage all women to be aware of the risk and attend for screening when they are invited."

        http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3372531.stm
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