Is Aluminium hiding in your deodorant?
There are a few different types of aluminium used in antiperspirants. Aluminium chlorohydrate, aluminium chloride, aluminium hydroxybromide, or aluminum zirconium are the types most often used and stop odour by blocking the sweat ducts.
Aluminium is not something that occurs naturally in our bodies and there are some studies which link aluminium to health problems, including breast cancer and neurological diseases.
Many people have made the switch to a natural deodorant over concerns of the exposure to aluminium. However aluminium can still be found in some deodorants that are considered ‘natural’. Crystal (or salt rock) deodorants use a compound called alum but its scientific name is potassium aluminium sulfate. These salts form a layer on the skin, inhibiting the growth of odour causing bacteria. While these crystals are probably better than using a conventional antiperspirant, they are sadly not aluminum-free.
Results from a recent paper1 provide additional evidence that aluminium from antiperspirants may increase breast cancer risk. The research showed that long term administration of low concentrations of aluminium chloride (at levels of aluminium detected in human breast tissue) can promote formation of mammary tumours which metastasize (become cancerous) in mice, and can transform cultured mammary epithelial cells into cancerous cells.
Concerns about aluminium-based antiperspirants have focused research on the toxicity of aluminium and not on the type of salt in which it is delivered. Some manufactures of crystal deodorant claim that the alum compound is too large to enter the body.
What Breast Cancer UK had to say:
“It is not the aluminium salt that enters a cell, but the aluminium ion itself. Therefore the size of the compound is not necessarily relevant. Breast Cancer UK recommends avoiding antiperspirants (and deodorants) that contain any type of aluminium salt.” Dr Margaret Wexler, Science policy officer, Breast Cancer UK.
Breast Cancer UK works to save lives and reduce breast cancer rates by tackling the environmental and chemical causes of the disease. More information about aluminium can be found on the Breast Cancer UK Website.
So if you are looking to go aluminium free remember to check the label not only for ‘aluminum’ but also for ‘alum’.
Love your skin, cause what goes on, goes in : )
1. [Mandriot et al. (2016) International Journal of Cancer: 139: 2781–2790]