Feature Archive

Email Health Scares

Urban legends circulate through email and create panic.

WebMD Feature

The Internet has made it simple for women to spread health information with a click of the mouse. Some of these health claims gain steam as women discuss the alleged dangers of everyday products. For instance, the following two health rumors have been circulating the Web recently: Antiperspirants cause breast cancer, and tampons contain asbestos and dioxins. But are these claims real -- or just a hoax?

Can Antiperspirants Cause Breast Cancer?

The antiperspirant rumor on the Internet claims the following:

  1. Antiperspirants prevent a person from sweating. Since perspiring enables the body to purge toxins from the armpits, the lack of sweating causes the body to deposit toxins in the lymph nodes in these areas.
  2. Men are less likely to develop breast cancer because most of the antiperspirant products they use become caught in their underarm hair and are not directly applied to the skin.
  3. Shaving nicks, which allow toxins to enter the body, further increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

"Just because someone makes a statement on the Internet doesn't make it true," says Lisa Bailey, M.D., a cancer surgeon and past president of the American Cancer Society (ACS), California Division. "There haven't been any studies to verify these claims about antiperspirants, which are tested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and have not been found to contain any chemicals that cause DNA damage leading to cancer." Although lymph nodes do clear some toxins from the body, toxins are not released through sweating, according to the ACS. Most cancer-causing substances are released through the kidneys and liver.