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First we were told that aluminum in deodorants causes cancer and cognitive problems like Alzheimer's disease. Later they said this was just one of those unproven theories that circulate on the internet. Here's the whole story.

What Is Aluminum?

Aluminum is a chemical element found everywhere, in the homes we live, in the cars we drive, in computers and mobile phones we use every day, and apparently even in our beauty products. It's very functional. It's the 13th element in the periodic table. This silvery-looking metal is the most widely spread metal on the planet, taking up about 8% of the Earth's core. And no — it's not dangerous in all its forms.

Difference Between Deodorants And Antiperspirants

You probably think: “Okay, aluminum's a metal, it's for the little parts in my phone, what is it doing in my deodorant?” Well, to cover this, we first have to clear up the difference between deodorants and antiperspirants.

Although many people use these terms interchangeably, they're not the same thing. What antiperspirants do is that they prevent sweating, and deodorants allow sweating, but prevent the bad smell. Sweating is body's natural process of cooling down when it becomes too hot. This means deodorants are more healthy and should be the first choice, but some people are very self-conscious about sweating, and they can't go without antiperspirants even a day.

The active ingredient that helps antiperspirants clog the pores and block the sweat is aluminum chlorohydrate, a compound of aluminum and chlorine. It works in a way that it prevents sweat glands to dispose the sweat. This would be fine if aluminum wasn't a neurotoxin, substance destructive for the human nerve tissue. It also causes irritation to the eyes, skin (!) and the respiratory system in case of inhalation.

Dangers Of Aluminum And Other Chemicals

Besides aluminum, deodorants and antiperspirants also contain parabens and synthetic fragrances — few other substances humans are sensitive to. If your armpit skin often feels irritated, it's because some of these ingredients harm you, and your body fights them with allergic reaction. Aluminum has been connected in the past with some scary and horrific illnesses like:

  • Breast cancer

  • Alzheimer’s

  • Kidney problems

  • Bone problems

Research Behind The Dangers

Researchers at Reading University in Britain have found a possible connection between rising rates of breast cancer and the use of antiperspirants. In the last 25 years, breast cancer numbers have doubled, from 20.000 in 1970's to 40.000 cases that Britain has today. There weren't so many deodorants in the 70's as nowadays, and people weren't removing armpit hair as often as they do now.

Even though there's no actual prove to show the dangers of aluminum, some reports have suggested that products containing aluminum chlorohydrate are extremely harmful because the chemical can be absorbed through the skin, or enter the body through cracks and nicks caused by waxing and shaving.

Aluminum has been proven to interfere with estrogen (metal that does this is called a metalloestrogen.) Scientists suspect that metalloestrogens increase breast cancer risks. However, National Cancer Institute did a research on this issue and they didn't find evidence linking the use of antiperspirants with the development of breast cancer or mental issues. They stated that “more research is needed”. You don't say?! The Food and Drug Administration which regulates cosmetic products has reported that they also found no evidence that links antiperspirants with growth of cancerous cells.

 

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