Is Deodorant Harmful?

For most of us, deodorant or antiperspirant use is a part of our daily routine; up for a shower and then a good application of deodorants and antiperspirants to keep body odor or excessive sweat at bay. But have you ever thought about the ingredients that you are applying to your skin when you use antiperspirants and other personal care products?

You may have heard the scare stories, but could antiperspirant use really be linked to breast cancer risk, kidney disease or alzheimer's disease?


Are there harmful chemicals in deodorant?

Some of the ingredients of concern in deodorants include aluminum chlorohydrate, propylene glycol and triclosan. There are more general concerns about all aluminum based compounds and also parabens in products that are applied directly to the skin.

In terms of aerosols, several researchers have argued that aerosol spray deodorants might cause issues for those with asthma and other health problems.


Deodorants vs. Antiperspirants: Health Benefits and Risks

Sweating in itself might be unpleasant, but is a normal, healthy biological process which helps us cool down and remove toxins.

Antiperspirant and Deodorant are used to help control body odor, however it's important to know that deodorants work very differently to antiperspirants.

Antiperspirants work to actively reduce or stop sweating, while deodorant increases skin pH levels to battle bacteria and keep body odor under control. There is now a growing level of research which suggests that using antiperspirants may not be the healthiest choice. While there are a few studies showing evidence of antiperspirants being a risk factor for scary side effects like breast cancer, allergic reactions and kidney disease, it certainly makes sense that any personal care products featuring potentially harmful chemicals might have generally negative side effects.

While parabens and aluminium seem to cause greater concern around antiperspirants for most people, it's true that we should look at all the ingredients in any product we are applying to our skin. For example, propylene glycol is commonly used in deodorant sticks and may be linked to allergic reactions. So while there isn't enough evidence to suggest that deodorants and antiperspirants are any less safe than other chemicals are found in the body wash, perfume, body lotion etc that we use on the daily. it does no harm to be aware of possible risk factors.

Deodorants do not contain the aluminum based compounds used extensively in pharmaceutical products, and there are even natural deodorants available that are free from chemicals, aluminum salts, and other deodorant ingredients that may be harmful.


Parabens in deodorant and antiperspirants

Parabens are used in cosmetic products to prevent the growth of fungi, bacteria and yeast on the deodorant. Again, the concern here is that research suggests that parabens may cross through the skin and mimic estrogen, a female hormone which is essential for sexual development and breast health. This relates to the breast cancer risk, however breast cancer research suggests that the levels of parabens found in cosmetic products is not high enough to have an impact on breast cancer risk.

The national cancer institute asserts that while there is no clear evidence linking the use of antiperspirants deodorants and other cosmetic products to breast cancer, more research is needed to establish if the absorption of aluminum compounds, applied daily in such proximity to breast tissue and the lymph nodes, might promote the growth of cancer cells.

Some scientists, however, caution against using antiperspirants or indeed any aluminum based products, citing that cosmetics applied to the skin might actually carry more risk than the foods we eat- after all, our liver and digestive system is equipped to metabolise food we eat, while substances we apply to the skin can pass freely in to the bloodstream.


Antiperspirants Facts About Cancer, Aluminum, Alzheimer’s and More

The good news is that the National Kidney foundation warn against antiperspirant use only in people with extremely weak kidney function- the concern is that the aluminum salts added to prevent sweating may be absorbed in to the skin. This should not be of concern to those who are generally in good health.

Research from the Journal of Applied Toxicology backs up this idea that some of the ingredients in deodorants and antiperspirants may get past the epidermis and be absorbed and stored in fat cells, which are prevalent in the underarm area. A lot of the concern about antiperspirants and breast cancers likely arises from the fact that most breast cancers grow in the upper outer part of the breast, close to the armpit. That said, some studies backed by the american cancer society have found that breast cancer tissue doesn't appear to have more aluminum than normal breast tissue. It's clear that we need a systematic review and lots more studies looking at how aluminum and other chemicals may or may not contribute to how breast cancers develop.

However, it's still no stretch to believe that we should be careful about what underarm products we choose to use to apply to some of the most sensitive skin on the body. If you'd like to avoid aluminium and other chemicals for health reasons, read on!


What you can use instead of antiperspirants?

If you'd like to ditch antiperspirant deodorants, there are lots of great natural deodorants available on the market. These kill bacteria and fight body odor without using aluminum as an active ingredient, instead using other ingredients with natural sources. These are often much kinder to sensitive skin, and are often cruelty free and plastic free too! You can even buy natural deodorant for sensitive skin

Common anti-bacteria ingredients found in natural alternatives to antiperspirant include sodium bicarbonate and essential oils. Importantly, natural deodorants don't block the sweat ducts but instead allow your sweat glands to do their thing- sweat- which is surely much better for your health!

Have we lost you at this point? Sure, when your body produces sweat it can be unpleasant, but your sweat glands are actually doing the important job of keeping your body cool and healthy.

Without the parabens and aluminum salts, you can not only put aside any thoughts of increased risk of breast cancer, you can also embrace a healthier , more environmentally friendly way to combat body odor. There are lots of different types of natural deodorant out there, even natural deodorant sticks- which won't be so different to the ones you buy on the high street, other than their high quality, natural formulation and zero waste packaging of course!








Antiperspirants Vs Deodorant : The Bottom Line

Whether you choose an antiperspirant or a deodorant is entirely a matter of personal choice.

In reviewing the available evidence, including from the American cancer society, it seems unlikely that using an antiperspirant will increase your risk of developing breast cancer, or indeed alzheimers disease. However, there is still enough evidence of what over exposure to aluminum and chemicals in general can do to our bodies, so if swapping to a natural deodorant is something you are interested in doing, it's well worth considering!

As a rule, we do promote swapping to natural alternatives where possible, both for the health of yourself and for the planet too!

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