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Why Breast Cancer is spreading around the World

By Dr. Kris G McGrath MD

In response to: Why Breast Cancer is spreading around the World.
TIME: 10-15-2007 (Cover below)

WhyBreastCancerIsSpreadingAroundTheWorldIn his message to readers regarding breast cancer going global, Richard Stengel, managing editor, states, “It’s truly vital that we share what we know about how to detect and treat the disease, especially in the Third World, where resources may be woefully lacking.” I would like to share what I know about breast cancer prevention, an important issue as evident in tobacco related disease.

What I know, and have worked on for over 2 decades, is that only 5-10% of breast cancer is genetic, leaving up to 90% from the environment and lifestyle. Prevention is possible. Much evidence supports Western lifestyle as the culprit, including fatty diets, less exercise and use of estrogen. None of these Western lifestyles solely explains such an ominous growth in global breast cancer incidence.

An environment near the breast is the underarm, and the closest Western lifestyle to the breast is the daily application of deodorants/antiperspirants often preceded by underarm shaving. The cartographic support of my concern over this Western lifestyle lies upon your cover, October 15th, 2007. Here lays a poignant graphic depiction of the underarms’ proximity to the breasts. The overlying map visually connects the region of Western underarm hygiene to the rest of the world. This cover is a powerful graphic pathway towards a breast cancer cause and prevention.

Time’s July 23rd issue, the medicine section, continues connecting the dots. In that issue, skin patches were featured, using the skin as an FDA approved drug delivery system. Designed for convenient medication delivery to treat disease, pain and dependency, harm may occur. The FDA now requires a warning label for opioid based pain relieving patches to prevent overdose. The Chicago Sun-Times (6-10-07) reported the death of Arielle Newman, a New York teen, dying form excessive skin application of an anti-inflammatory drug. The Chicago-Sun times also reported on the death of 22-year-old college student, Shiri Berg, from an overdose of a prescription-strength pain relief gel.

The CBS Evening News featured my concerns on December 5th and 6th, 2005. This was in response to my study on breast cancer survivors published in 2003, suggesting a relationship between breast cancer and underarm hygiene. In that study, the group of women who most frequently used underarm products and more frequently shaved their underarms, had an earlier age of breast cancer diagnosis. Shaving the underarms may facilitate underarm product component absorption by disrupting the protective skin barrier. Aluminum salts are the active component of antiperspirants and aluminum’s potential mechanism towards cancer in discussed in my paper. Deodorants and antiperspirants contain other chemical components as well.

Western lifestyles including fatty diets and less exercise have infiltrated Third World countries. I expect also, has Western underarm hygiene practices. Without the presence of large Third World department stores an increasing number of kiosks may be the source of underarm product distribution, supported by economy, media, entertainment, and the internet.

Solutions are so often right under our nose, but may be right under our arms.

Read the TIME article ‘Why Breast Cancer is spreading around the World’ at:,8599,1668219,00.html

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