Hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers can grow when they're exposed to estrogen. So women who've been diagnosed with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer are told to avoid products that contain estrogen such as hormone replacement therapy and birth control pills.
A study found that certain skin lotions contained forms of estrogen, even though these ingredients weren't listed on the label. These results were reported at the 2008 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.
The researcher who did the study had been diagnosed with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer and was using a lotion to ease dry skin problems she had after chemotherapy to treat the disease. The lotion worked so well, she suspected that it must have some form of estrogen in it. So she sent samples of 16 skin lotions to a lab for testing. Six of the lotions were found to have some small levels of estrogen in them.
It's not clear whether estrogen absorbed through the skin can influence hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. But as pain and nicotine patches show, medicines can be absorbed through the skin.
The names of the lotions that were tested in this study aren't available. If you've been diagnosed with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer and want to make sure your exposure to estrogen is as low as it can be, you may want to use only baby oil or olive oil to moisturize your skin.
Stay tuned to Breastcancer.org for the latest news on breast cancer research.