Use of Underarm Cosmetic Products in Relation to Risk of Breast Cancer: A Case-Control Study

EBioMedicine. 2017 Jul;21:79-85. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2017.06.005. Epub 2017 Jun 6.


Background: Previous studies on breast cancer (BC), underarm cosmetic products (UCP) and aluminum salts have shown conflicting results. We conducted a 1:1 age-matched case-control study to investigate the risk for BC in relation to self-reported UCP application.

Methods: Self-reported history of UCP use was compared between 209 female BC patients (cases) and 209 healthy controls. Aluminum concentration in breast tissue was measured in 100 cases and 52 controls. Multivariable conditional logistic regression analysis was performed to estimate odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs), adjusting for established BC risk factors.

Findings: Use of UCP was significantly associated with risk of BC (p=0.036). The risk for BC increased by an OR of 3.88 (95% CI 1.03-14.66) in women who reported using UCP's several times daily starting at an age earlier than 30years. Aluminum in breast tissue was found in both cases and controls and was significantly associated to self-reported UCP use (p=0.009). Median (interquartile) aluminum concentrations were significantly higher (p=0.001) in cases than in controls (5.8, 2.3-12.9 versus 3.8, 2.5-5.8nmol/g).

Interpretation: Frequent use of UCPs may lead to an accumulation of aluminum in breast tissue. More than daily use of UCPs at younger ages may increase the risk of BC.

Keywords: Aluminum; Breast cancer; Case-control study; Epidemiology; Underarm cosmetic products.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aluminum / chemistry
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cosmetics / adverse effects*
  • Cosmetics / chemistry
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk
  • Young Adult


  • Cosmetics
  • Aluminum