The impact of aluminium salts
in the occurence of certain types
of breast cancer

The creation of an environmental carcinogenesis laboratory

Thanks to the support of a private Foundation in Geneva, the Grangettes Foundation, the Ligue Genevoise contre le Cancer, and private donations, a biological research laboratory dedicated to studying environmental agents that may cause cancers was recently developed within the Parc des Grangettes.

It has in particular spent several years studying the effects of aluminium salts on the mammary gland. Aluminium salts are present in relatively high doses in many everyday products, including most deodorants and some medicines. These in vitro and then animal tests have demonstrated that the salts are not inoffensive but are in fact mutagenic and induce clear alterations in the mammary gland, which are related to the key stages in malignant transformation. However, aluminium salts do not have any detectable mutagenic effects according to standard toxicological tests using bacteria.

These observations have therefore identified for the first time an environmental agent that may in part account for the alarming increase in occurrences of breast cancer in our populations. The incrimination of aluminium salts is rather like the story of asbestos: a substance that is present in the environment, is low cost, with qualities that appeal to industry, and for which the negative health effects were not detected by traditional toxicology screening methods.

We hope that our work will contribute to enforcing a ban on the use of aluminium salts by the cosmetics industry and that it will ultimately help to reduce the occurrence of breast cancer. Finally, we hope that our observations will convince the health institutions of the inadequacy of the toxicology screening tests that are currently used in the industrial world to introduce potentially harmful agents into the food processing and cosmetics chains.