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Aluminum in antiperspirants

Published on July 25, 2018 at 19:44 / Updated on August 3, 2018 at 12:32

Some people worry about the presence of aluminum in antiperspirants. Several rumours have been circulating online claiming that this ingredient can cause various diseases, such as breast cancer and Alzheimer’s. And yet, research has found no such evidence.

Aluminum is a natural element

Aluminum is found naturally (in non-metallic form) in the environment, in many foods, and even in our body. It is also used to produce a lightweight metal that is then used to create various consumer products, such as food cans, pots and pans, tools, sporting goods, etc. 

Why use it in antiperspirants?

The non-metallic form of aluminum is used in antiperspirants (and in certain types of medication). This form is not absorbed by the skin, but when it comes into contact with sweat, it forms a gel. This gel blocks the sweat gland ducts, which prevents sweat from passing through. It is eliminated when the cells are naturally renewed or when the skin is washed. 

Risks associated with aluminum-based antiperspirants

Aluminum can be an irritant, especially if the armpit skin is already irritated. For that reason, it is recommended that you do not apply the antiperspirant right after waxing or shaving. 

As for the risk of breast cancer, some people believe that aluminum can travel from the armpits to the breasts, where they could trigger cancer tumours. However, experts state that almost no aluminum is absorbed by the skin, even when it’s irritated, and that it doesn’t have the properties necessary to cause breast cancer.

According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, studies performed in the past 40 years have not been able to establish a clear link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s or other cognitive problems. 

Avoiding aluminum

If you’d rather avoid aluminum-based products, you will need to use a deodorant instead, since aluminum is the only active ingredient approved by Health Canada (and the FDA in the U.S.) for antiperspirants.

Deodorants mainly act by masking the odour of sweat. Some products contain antibacterial ingredients in order to inhibit the bacteria that cause the unpleasant odour of sweat. You can also make your own deodorant using natural products. There are many recipes available online, usually made with baking soda and essential oils. Use caution with essential oils, because when used too liberally, they can irritate the skin. 

In conclusion, according to the latest research, it is safe to use aluminum-based antiperspirants. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to consult your pharmacist!

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