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Table 1 Components of cosmetics applied to the underarm and breast area

From: Underarm antiperspirants/deodorants and breast cancer

Component Mechanism of action Examples of compounds used Compounds with known oestrogenic activity
Antiperspirant Mediates formation of a physical plug at the top of the sweat duct to prevent sweat escaping onto the skin surface Mainly aluminium salts, often as aluminium chlorhydrate Aluminium is a metalloestrogen
Deodorant To mask, modify or prevent body odour. Since undesirable smell is generated through the action of bacteria on the sweat on the skin surface, antimicrobial agents act to kill bacteria Phenolic compounds, often chlorinated such as triclosan Triclosan
Preservative To prevent growth of microorganisms during product storage Alkyl esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid (parabens) Methylparaben, ethylparaben, n-propylparaben, n-butylparaben, isobutylparaben benzylparaben
Fragrance/fragrance fixer To give a good scent to the consumer product Synthetic musks, including nitromusks and polycyclic musks. Benzyl salicylate, benzyl benzoate, butylphenymethylpropional (Lilial) Polycyclic musks HHCB, AHTN. Nitromusks musk xylene, musk ketone. Benzyl salicylate, benzyl benzoate, butylphenylmethylpropional
Spreading/conditioning To ensure even distribution of components across the skin surface Linear (dimethicone) and cyclic (cyclomethicone) siloxanes Octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane
Plasticiser Solvent, moisturiser, fragrance carrier Phthalates Dibutylphthalate, di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, diethylphthalate, butylbenzylphthalate
Surfactant For cleansing purposes Alkyl phenols Nonylphenol
UV filter Chemicals act to absorb UVA and UVB light. Also added to aid product stability Organic compounds, often benzophenone derivatives Benzophenone-3, benzophenone-2, octyl-methoxycinnamate, 3-(4-methylbenzylidene)-camphor, homosalate, octyl-dimethyl-p-aminobenzoic acid
  1. For references refer to published reviews [57]. HHCB, 1,3,4,6,7,8-hexahydro-4,6,6,7,8,8,-hexamethylcyclopenta-γ-2-benzopyran; AHTN, 6-acetyl-1,1,2,4,4,7-hexamethylteralin.