A debate has been raging for years over whether aluminum in deodorant and antiperspirants is harmful to human health. Some studies have found that deodorants are perfectly safe with aluminum in them, while others say that there are harmful effects of deodorant that should make you wary.
This is not just an internet debate where “armchair experts” are demanding that their side is the correct one. There are some very prestigious institutions, doctors and scientists on both sides of the debate. For example, a research university in the U.K. says there could be a link between aluminum in antiperspirants and breast cancer. Meanwhile, the National Cancer Institute says that the studies are inconclusive and more research is needed, while the American Cancer Society says there is no clear or direct link between cancer and aluminum in deodorant. It’s easy to see why consumers would be a bit confused!
Here is a closer look at all sides of this debate so you can make an informed decision.
One Side: Aluminum in Deodorant Could Be Harmful
Research from the University of Reading in the U.K. has shown that aluminum in antiperspirants can cause gene instability. Dr. Philippa Darbre says that the research suggests that long-term exposure to the chemicals in deodorant could cause cancer. However, proving this beyond a shadow of a doubt is still a long way off. Many different environmental chemicals can contribute to cancer and aluminum in deodorant is just one of them.
Here is why the research suggests there may be a link between breast cancer and aluminum. When a person shaves her underarms and gives herself a nick with the razor, and then follows that up by putting on deodorant, it can introduce aluminum products directly into the bloodstream. (Many brand-name antiperspirants can contain aluminium chloride, aluminium-zirconium and aluminium chlorohydrate.)
Since more than half of all breast cancers originate in the upper-outer quadrant of the breast, right next to the underarm area, it suggests the possibility that this theory could be correct.
The Other Side: Aluminum in Deodorant is Safe
Scientists with the Personal Care Products Council — a trade association that represents cosmetics and other personal care items — says that everyone can use deodorants and antiperspirants with aluminum in them with a “high level of confidence.” (Note that the trade association does represent the very deodorant products that are under examination.)
Dr. David Gorski, an oncologist with the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, goes so far as to call it a myth that aluminum in antiperspirants and deodorants can cause cancer. Dr. Gorski says it is simply not possible for chemicals in deodorant to get through the dermis layer of skin unless you were to cut yourself very deeply while shaving. Even if there was a link between cancer and deodorant, he says a person would be more likely to develop skin cancer near the cut rather than breast cancer.
Several studies back in the 1960s found that Alzheimer’s patients had high levels of aluminum in their brains. Antiperspirants were one of the possible sources that were blamed for the condition. However, based on the amount of aluminum and aluminum-based products in antiperspirants, this possibility was later ruled out.
While some doctors and scientists say that aluminum in deodorant is perfectly safe, others caution that more research is needed, and some recommend that you should only use chemical-free natural deodorant.
The Verdict: Natural and Aluminum-Free Deodorant
The verdict? The jury’s still out.
So where does that leave you as a consumer? If you would rather be safe than sorry, you should know that LACE never uses abrasive chemicals or aluminum-based products in their line of deodorant. The LACE product line actually helps your body draw out harmful chemicals instead of putting them back in. These deodorants are also more gentle for those who are allergy-sensitive. You can leave the debates to the scientists while knowing that your deodorant from LACE is vegan and all natural!