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The Truth About Deodorant Safety

The Truth About Deodorant Safety

Walk down any personal care product aisle in the store and you immediately notice a rising deodorant trend. Labels that advertise “aluminum free” and “chemical free” now line the shelves as the natural deodorant market share is growing. Even the big brand names like Dove and Arm & Hammer are getting into the game.

But is there any real evidence that aluminum and chemicals in these products increase your risk of disease? Specifically breast cancer?

First, it should be noted that aluminum is a naturally occurring agent in soil and in the environment. But when aluminum is absorbed into the body in quantities higher than what occurs in nature, problems can arise. Aluminum has a negative effect on hormones, specifically estrogen. Sustained high levels of estrogen can wreak havoc in the body and can create the perfect environment for the formation of cancer, originating in the reproductive organs.

Why are deodorants usually healthier than antiperspirants?

Antiperspirants contain aluminum in some form and work by plugging up your pores. The aluminum swells when you sweat and it prevents the sweat from coming out of the ducts of your sudoriparous glands in your skin. Sweat has a purpose. It carries toxins out of the body and helps to cool the body down. Blocking the release of sweat blocks that natural function of the body. Chemical aluminum compounds such as aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex, aluminum sesquichlorohydrate, potassium alum (found in some "natural" deodorant crystal salts) and others are used in blocking the sweat from exiting the skin.

Deodorants just block the odor that occurs when sweat creates bacteria. Deodorants are not free from questionable ingredients. Chemicals like propylene glycol, triclosan, parabens, and phthalates can cause undesirable effects in the body like cancer promoting and thyroid issues.

Antiperspirants are just one product that contains aluminum. Other sources of aluminum are skincare products, aluminum cookware and tinfoil, antacids, and vaccines.

The relationship between aluminum in underarm products and disease has been studied since the early 1990s, when a pattern was noticed that a large number of breast cancer tumors were located at the edge of the breast near the armpit. This led scientists to ask the question, “Could deodorants and/or antiperspirants be the culprit?”

Dr. Phillipa Darbre, a scientist out of the University of Reading in the UK, has been studying the relationship between aluminum (and other chemicals) and cancer for over 20 years.

Dr. Darbre has conducted dozens upon dozens of studies examining links between the chemicals we put on our skin and breast cancer. Her most recent published work showed that the levels of aluminum in the body are highest in breast cysts, more than anywhere else.