Aluminum in Deodorant –
Do a google search for “antiperspirant and cancer” the initial results could make you dismiss the concept as completely unfounded, prompted only by an internet rumor.
But dig a little deeper and you may think twice.
According to a study published by the Division of Cell and Molecular Biology at The University of Reading:
Results reported here demonstrate that aluminium in the form of aluminium chloride or aluminium chlorhydrate can interfere with the function of oestrogen receptors of MCF7 human breast cancer cells both in terms of ligand binding and in terms of oestrogen-regulated reporter gene expression. This adds aluminium to the increasing list of metals capable of interfering with oestrogen action and termed metalloestrogens.
Another study published by the Journal of Applied Toxicology states:
These results may suggest a role for raised levels of aluminium and modulation of proteins that regulate iron homeostasis as biomarkers for identification of women at higher risk of developing breast cancer. The reasons for the high levels of aluminium in NAF remain unknown but possibilities include either exposure to aluminium-based antiperspirant salts in the adjacent underarm area and/or preferential accumulation of aluminium by breast tissues.
What do these conclusions mean in plain English?
Aluminum mimics estrogen. Estrogen mimicking compounds have been attributed to a rise in breast cancer. Aluminum in antiperspirant has been found to remain in human tissue. There is good cause to believe that antiperspirant use may contribute to breast cancer.
Personally, I was moved to toss antiperspirant in the trash bin while pregnant and increasingly concerned about chemicals in my environment. I was conflicted, of course, because I didn’t want to walk around stinky! But after reading the common sense approach by Dr. Mercola, who said he simply keeps his underarms clean by washing with soap and water throughout the day. Mercola is a health adviser with a great website, who said he stopped using it as a grad student when he noticed it was turning all of his white tee shirts yellow in the armpits (I’d always wondered why my white tees wouldn’t stay white!).
After a week of feeling incredibly stinky, I read an online forum where someone mentioned that once the aluminum flushes out of your system completely, the odor begins to diminish – and this typically takes about thirty days.
While I don’t have any medical research to back up that claim, it was enough to encourage me to stick with it for at least a month. And I’m glad I did! It actually only took about three weeks or so and I stopped feeling so stinky. I did, of course, have to wash periodically throughout the day, especially after exercising, but it’s been almost a year now and I haven’t turned back. If I know I’m going to be particularly active, I may use a little baking soda to keep the sweat to a minimum, but to avoid skin irritation I don’t use baking soda everyday.
There are a growing number of great deodorants that help minimize odor. None work quite like the super effective commercial antiperspirants, but personally I think it’s worth the exchange to know that I’m not coating a very sensitive area of my body (a place where I shave, making the skin especially vulnerable to chemical penetration) so close to my breast tissue and milk ducts. It’s a personal choice, of course, but one I’m glad I made.
As always, do your research and see what works best for you and your family!
Aluminium, antiperspirants and breast cancer. Division of Cell and Molecular Biology, School of Animal and Microbial Sciences, The University of Reading. September 2005.
Analysis of aluminium content and iron homeostasis in nipple aspirate fluids from healthy women and breast cancer-affected patients. Journal of Applied Toxicology. April 2011.
Can Environmental Estrogens Cause Breast Cancer? Scientific American Magazine. October 1995.
Antiperspirant Use can Increase your Breast Cancer Risk. Dr. Joseph Mercola (Mercola.com). March 30, 2006.