We posted an earlier article on the potential dangers of aluminum in deodorant, but today, we wanted to expand on that a bit. We’ve been talking a lot about materials that can act like estrogen in the body, which may encourage cancer cells to form. Did you know that aluminum is one of them?
Like parabens, phthalates, and pesticides, aluminum can act like estrogen in the body, affecting estrogen receptors and increasing breast cancer risk. Laboratory research shows that aluminum salts, common in most deodorants, can directly bind to estrogen receptors, and can affect estrogen-regulated gene expression in breast cancer cells.
“Lifetime exposure to estrogen is the risk factor which is tied most strongly to breast cancer,” said lead researcher Philippa Darbre, Ph.D., of the University of Reading in England. “If the aluminum salts in antiperspirants enter the body and mimic estrogen it stands to reason that constant exposure over many years may pose a risk.”
Currently, there are no definitive studies linking the use of antiperspirants to an increased risk of cancer. The American Cancer Society still considers commercial deodorants to be safe. Live Green Mom, however, has this to say about those who might have us turn a blind eye to recent studies: “Doctors and researchers always have to say ‘may pose a risk’ or ‘could possibly….’ They cannot speak in absolutes until all research is done and considered conclusive. Until everyone agrees. And not everyone is going to agree, naturally. It isn’t in ‘everyone’s’ best financial interest to agree.”
Read a little more about aluminum and it just doesn’t sound good. According to researcher Dr. Chris G. Mcgrath, M.D., 90% of breast cancer is linked to the environment or a particular lifestyle. “The closest environment to the breast is the underarm and the closest Western lifestyle is the daily application of antiperspirants, deodorants, or more commonly in combination. This daily routine is more often then not, preceded by underarm shaving….Westernized women are applying chemical compounds in antiperspirants/deodorants on the skin daily over decades. These compounds have not been studied long term with respect to skin absorption and possible toxicity. The breasts and underarms are directly linked by the skin and lymphatic system. Interesting when the incidence of breast cancer since the 1940s is plotted against the same time period of antiperspirant/deodorant sales, an eerie parallel is seen.”
Mcgrath goes on to say that in one of his studies, he found that women who more frequently used antiperspirants and shaved their underarms were diagnosed with breast cancer at a significantly earlier age than those who did these habits less frequently or not at all. Other studies have found that aluminum is absorbed through the skin, and has been found in breast tissue of women who have had mastectomies.
Why do manufacturers use aluminum anyway? Well, it’s very effective in preventing sweating. Basically, it plugs up the sweat glands. However, you do have alternatives. Dr. Mcgrath recommends Terra Natural’s deodorants, whose motto is, “Why take a chance if you don’t have to?” Their ingredients are all plant or food based. You can also try the crystal deodorant stones we mentioned in our last post. Finally, Tom’s of Maine makes several non-aluminum deodorants, as does Burt’s Bees.
Have you changed your underarm routine? Share your story!
Photo courtesy HurtRich via Flickr.com.