The verdict has been rendered, and there is a very weak to no link between aluminum and breast cancer or Alzheimer’s disease….or so the scientific evidence says.
According to the American Cancer Society, there are no strong epidemiologic studies in medicine that link deodorants and breast cancer.
I know that, when my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40, we didn’t have a significant family history of the disease. Her genetics testing was negative, which leads to environmental factors.
When my father-in-law, who worked in a smelting facility, died from a rare brain tumor, it made us all wonder if there was a connection between that and his exposure to heavy metals like aluminum….there is.
Why does my grandmother’s nephrologist ask her to avoid aluminum in her underarms? There is a link between aluminum and the progression of renal disease.
There is some weak data that has a very loud voice drawing a direct link between aluminum and increased risk of breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
I have a hunch that the line is not straight, and we will discover that some of us have a sensitivity or vulnerability to things like aluminum, and not all of us are affected in the same way.
In medicine, we say the cause is “multifactorial.” Meaning, no one action or environmental factor led to breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, or any other disease. Compounding effects build up over time, and a certain intensity or the right timing and vulnerability can lead to that outcome.
In my opinion, if you can avoid putting a heavy metal on your skin every day, do it. Whether that be antiperspirants or other cosmetic products.
One thing I know for sure is that the pendulum of medicine swings back and forth. Studies are done, data gets clarified and things we once thought were okay turn out to be worrisome. The opposite is also true.
This data shows no significant link between aluminum and breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. It is very convincing to the scientist in me, but the sister and daughter-in-law of those diagnosed with cancer is still hesitant. It is very well written and makes me feel irrational in my thoughts about aluminum.
We all have to decide for ourselves. The decision was easy for me– I didn’t want to take a chance with applying a product containing aluminum to my underarms every day.
Besides any possible link to cancer or disease, here are my reasons to avoid aluminum:
Meaning, it didn’t work that great for me. I sweat right through even the strongest clinical strength formulas. If the total amount you sweat in a day is 100% (I can do math!), imagine a product that reduces that by 20-60%. That is the best they can do. It’s not zero wetness, so my humongous sweat marks are now just giant. The way aluminum works is by clogging or plugging up your sweat glands with dead skin cells and aluminum solids. They combine when you perspire and swell up to block the sweat. Ideally, it would do it 100%, but it doesn’t, so I’m out.
Aluminum is the ingredient that is responsible for yellowing the underarms of your white shirts. Companies will lower the percentage of aluminum, and I do think that helps, but then it also lowers the antiperspirant benefit.
Products that contain aluminum also contain waxy substances like propylene glycol that binds to manmade fabrics in your clothes, and that B.O. and wax are often there to stay. It just keeps building up each time you wear it. The way you know if your man-made fabrics contain waxy B.O. residue is if you smell within the first hour of putting on the shirt.
Have you ever been there? A fragrance so strong that, when someone hugs you, your shoulder smells like Dove or Secret? Have you ever been just sitting there and have a sudden taste in your mouth of Secret? I have. It made me wonder if I was absorbing the fragrance and my brain picked it up, or if it really was sticking to my teeth and I could taste it from time to time. It was pretty impressive. It is like a glue you cannot wash off easily.
I found a great product that worked better than anything else on the market for wetness about 10 years ago. You have to put it on at night for maximum benefit since you sweat less at night. I liked that reasoning, and it is applicable to all products on the market today. But…do not make the mistake of putting aluminum chloride on your underarms right out of the shower. It itches and burns like crazy.
It is working in the opposite direction of what you would expect… No wonder I smelled more when I used aluminum-containing products. It is also the reason why man-made fabrics tend to get more stinky the more you wear them.
Now these are my opinions, but with all of this said about the negatives regarding aluminum, I think most of all, it just didn’t work great for me and I ended up with a permanent smell of waxy B.O.-scented ocean breeze in my bologna-stained shirts until the end of time.
The side effects outweigh the minimal benefit for me.
If you really need to minimize sweat but want to also avoid aluminum, you might try a t-shirt with padding in the underarm. These are designed to absorb the sweat instead of letting it create a giant ring in your shirt (Think training pants for your pits). Wear these from time to time when you give your TED Talk (or want to wear grey), and the rest of the time let it flow.
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