Aluminum salts in deodorants are really that dangerous
Antiperspirants are said to help prevent perspiration by containing aluminum chloride by sealing the skin’s sweat glands. However, the aluminum salts are controversial: they are suspected, among other things, to increase the risk of breast cancer.
Many manufacturers have reacted to the health due to the negative effects of aluminum chloride (aluminum chloride hexhydrate, ACH) and now offer appropriate antiperspirants without the active ingredient. Are deodorants without aluminum an alternative? And what exactly is aluminum chloride?
How does aluminum chloride counteract sweating?
If you often sweat heavily under your armpits, you can try an antiperspirant or antiperspirant instead of a deodorant. Manufacturers promise that the aluminum chloride contained in them helps against sweating. But the mode of action has its reason: In fact, it closes the gland ducts and thus suppresses the production of sweat and thus the odor. Even at low dosage, an effect is noticeable.
Most pharmacies even offer an antiperspirant, usually a solution based on 20 percent aluminum chloride hexahydrate. Depending on the body site to which the antiperspirant is to be used, the concentration may vary.
Antiperspirants and deodorants – what’s the difference?
Even though most people do not distinguish between them, antiperspirants and deodorants are two different products: while antiperspirants are supposed to prevent or reduce sweating, deodorants primarily neutralize the smell of sweat. Therefore aluminum salts are due to their antiperspirant effect only in antiperspirants before, not in deodorants. However, a “48-hour deodorant” and “72-hour deodorant” is in most cases an antiperspirant.
Does aluminum chloride in the antiperspirants cause breast cancer?
After a study has been reported that aluminum chloride associated with breast cancer risk, the use of aluminum salts is controversial. In 2001, researchers found that breast cancer occurs more often in the vicinity of the armpit, and in 2007 it was discovered that these tumors had an increased concentration of aluminum. It was suggested that aluminum-containing salts promote breast cancer. According to the German Cancer Society, however, a breast cancer-causing effect of aluminum-containing deodorants has not been proven.
However, researchers from the Medical University of Innsbruck have now confirmed in an epidemiological study that an intensive use of aluminum-containing deodorants several times a day at young age can increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Researchers compared 209 cases of breast cancer patients with 209 healthy women. The concentration of aluminum in breast tissue was studied in 100 women. The scientists came to the conclusion that women who regularly use aluminum-containing deodorants probably have an increased risk of breast cancer. In addition, an increased aluminum concentration was found in the breast tissue of women with cancer.
The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) warns that “the daily use of an aluminum-containing antiperspirant of the TWI may be completely exhausted”. And that applies even with healthy skin – for example, if you get injured while shaving under your armpits, the intake can be significantly higher.
Related to nerve damage and Alzheimer’s
Several studies also suggest a link between aluminum chloride intake and Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, the metal is suspected to have effects on bone development. And according to the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa), increased metal uptake in the long term can also lead to brittle bones, anemia and brain damage.
According to the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), it has been proven that high quantities of aluminum can damage nerves and offspring, in other words have reproductive toxicity (effects on fertility and children in the womb). Researchers from Australia and the United Kingdom have presented work on the possible risk of breast cancer and Alzheimer’s exposure to aluminum. Therefore, one can not say with any certainty that aluminum triggers nerve damage and / or Alzheimer’s, but must await future study results.
What are the disadvantages of an antiperspirant?
Aluminum chloride deodorants can also cause another problem: the substance dries out the skin and makes it more susceptible to irritation. Many people experience discomfort such as burning or itching after application. The higher the drug concentration, the more likely such side effects are to be expected. A 20 percent solution can already cause skin irritation.
You should only thinly apply the antiperspirant and see how well your skin tolerates the drug.
Aluminum is also found in other cosmetics
Many consumers would already consume large quantities of aluminum via food, and the weekly tolerable intake would probably be exhausted by food alone for some of the population, explains the BfR. Also lipstick and eye shadow, toothpaste or sun creams may contain aluminum. Also on cooking utensils, cans, foils and tubes, the light metal can go on food and get into the body.
So make sure that you do not apply aluminum-containing antiperspirants immediately after shaving, and that you should not use them with damaged axillary skin from the outset. Deodorants without aluminum salts are also a way to reduce your overall intake of aluminum. Many manufacturers now offer these.