Studies show chemicals in antiperspirants and deodorants can lead to Alzheimer’s disease and cause cancer, but major government bodies say they are safe, so do I keep using them or not?
I have thought about this off and on for years.
Antiperspirants and deodorants are very different and I never really cared much for the latter because I didn’t find they worked that well. While there has always been a bit of controversy surrounding the safety of antiperspirants, in the past I chose to ignore any risks assuming that if they were really dangerous they would be banned.
I have since changed my views on most of these products after researching the risks. To continue reading this post, click here…
Here is a comparison of the different types of under-arm products.
Antiperspirants block the sweat glands preventing sweat from leaving the body. They are extremely effective. Most antiperspirants contain Aluminum Zirconium, and parabens.
Deodorants allow sweating and either mask or neutralize the smell. The leading commercial brands of deodorant contain petrochemicals and parabens which are used as a preservative. Crystal/mineral salt deodorants usually don’t contain parabens, but do often contain aluminum potassium sulfate (even though they claim to be “all natural” and aluminum free, read the ingredients as the “natural” part is often BS and the “free” part usually means free of aluminum zirconium).
What Are the Downsides
1. Increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease – Your body absorbs the aluminum in these products and there is evidence that exposure to aluminum contributes to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease – several studies have shown higher than normal amounts of aluminum in tissue of those with Alzheimer’s.
2. Increased Risk of Cancer – There is plenty of evidence that parabens have potentially harmful impacts on the body – according to EPA parabens displayed estrogenic activity in tests (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1566206/) and the cosmetic industry has been force to prove several times that parabens are safe (see http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductandIngredientSafety/SelectedCosmeticIngredients/ucm128042.htm).
3. Harm to the Lymph Nodes – Antiperspirants prevent the sweating process, which means that toxins from the body are locked inside the sensitive underarm tissue which is near your lymph nodes.
4. Neurotoxins – Many perfumes used in these products are considered moderate neurotoxins which means they can impair nerve and brain function.
(For more info on these risks, see the Skin Deep Database at http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com – hosted by a coalition of public health, educational, religious, labor, womens, environmental and consumer groups working to protect the health of consumers and workers by requiring the health and beauty industry to phase out the use of dangerous chemicals and replace them with safer alternatives)
So are antiperspirants and deodorants safe or not?
First of all, Aluminum is known to be a neurotoxin in high doses, and the FDA suggests avoiding products containing aluminum if you have health complications such as renal dysfunction, but overall the FDA claims underarm products containing aluminum are safe. They regard the studies showing risks as inconclusive. Even the Alzheimer’s Society advises that a link between aluminum and the disease is unlikely. The Skin Deep website is not so carefree and lists antiperspirants and most deodorants as moderate hazards, while it lists some of the mineral salt deodorants as safe.
What about the possible links to cancer either from parabens or toxins being locked inside the sensitive under-arm tissue near your lymph nodes? According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the American Cancer Society (ACS), these claims are largely unsubstantiated by scientific research.
While FDA, AS, NCI and ACS all claim there is no overwhelming proof of the dangers of underarm products containing aluminum and parabens, there is also no proof that they are safe either and all agree that the evidence of risks merit additional research!
In my experience a lot of science and policy is agenda driven, especially where profits are involved. Cigarettes are, after all, legal in spite of the absolute dangers. If there is only “inconclusive” evidence that antiperspirants and deodorants represent health haazards, there certainly is a lot of inconclusive evidence and for me there is enough smoke to suspect fire.
Our body is meant to sweat. It is one of the primary ways we secrete toxins so it makes sense to me to let it work the way it is supposed to. Plus I want to enjoy a long and happy life, so it also makes sense to me to try and avoid anything that is linked to Alzheimers, no matter how weak are the links.
That’s why, after many years of putting it off I finally switched off products that contain aluminum or parabens.
I had been using the natural deodorants and then learned that the mineral salts also contain aluminum so I switched off them. The natural brands of deodorant, such as Tom’s of Maine, have no aluminum, or parabens, but have petrochemicals that I would prefer to avoid. I haven’t been able to find a product that doesn’t contain any of the nasty stuff and I had heard an old wives tale that baking soda applied like talcum powder so I have been trying that. So far so good.
Applying once a day should be enough, but since baking soda doesn’t actually stop sweating, on long days you may want to have some deodorant handy in case you need a refresh (you can slip into a restroom and give yourself a quick splash of water underarm if really needed, or you can always apply an eternally handy babywipe then reapply deodorant). Haven’t lost any friends yet, so I am sticking with it.
If avoiding antiperspirants and deodorants sounds impractical and weird, I will bet my health that Alzheimer’s is more impractical and weirder.