Antiperspirants: Are They Doing More Harm than Good?


Let’s Talk Antiperspirants!

Putting on antiperspirants is pretty much a routine in most people’s life, especially those living in hot and humid environment; and you probably won’t think much about it.

But tides have changed when a journal article in 2000 about aluminium in antiperspirants causing breast cancer was circulating over the Internet like wildfire. The key questions are: who should be concerned? and why should you be concerned?

Who Should be Concerned?


If you wouldn’t swallow a spoon of toxic ingredients, then do you think that as long as you do not eat them, smearing them under your arms (in the form of antiperspirants) doesn’t really matter?

But do you know that?
“When you eat something, it gets broken down by liver and digestive system. But when you put something (a chemical) on your skin, they can enter your bloodstream (at times) without being metabolized?”

An expert who studies how known and potential endocrine disruptors – caused by some chemicals that can are commonly found in our daily antiperspirants – can in fact worm past the epidermis into our body and cause potential harm.

Another research in the Journal of Applied Toxicology showed that some compounds (aluminium) used in antiperspirants were absorbed and stored in fat cells, which were prevalent in the underarms areas. Your underarm tissues contain hormones receptors which could likely react to some of these same ingredients, known to increase breast cancer risk.

Why Should You be Concerned?

Because aluminium is NOT normally found in human body!

From this study, it became apparent that aluminium – typically found in antiperspirants sprays, sticks or roll ons – got absorbed into our bodies when we are applying these antiperspirants.

Aluminium salts can account for some 25% of ingredients in some antiperspirants. According to a review of aluminium exposure for humans, it was found that a single underarm application of antiperspirant led to about 0.012% of aluminium being absorbed. It probably doesn’t sound like much but if you work out 1 or more times a day you apply the antiperspirant for decades, the amount of exposure – which should not end up in your body – is huge!

Implications for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mothers

For pregnant and nursing mothers, we are made to believe that the babies will be protected from all chemical exposure in the mothers’ wombs by a wealth of natural shields.

Nursing mothers breastfeed their babies because they want to give them the best nutritional start in an uncertain world as breast milk contains all the nutrients the babies need in the right proportions.

More recent studies are showing research that can be troubling for these mothers. Researchers have found that we carry around quite a load of toxins in our bodies through constant exposure to various chemicals in our environment and that these chemicals end up in breast milk and are in turn passed along to newborns. A groundbreaking article in Times Magazine by Florence Williams brought to light that breast milk also tends to attract heavy metals and other contaminants due to its high-fat and protein content:

“When we nurse our babies, we feed them not only the fats, sugars and proteins that fire their immune systems, metabolisms and cerebral synapses. We also feed them, albeit in minuscule amounts, paint thinners, dry-cleaning fluids, wood, deodorizers,cosmetic additives, gasoline byproducts, rocket fuel, termite poisons, fungicides and flame retardants.”

On a body-weight basis, the dietary dose baby receives these chemicals are much higher as: (1) scientists believe that mothers siphon off to their babies a significant amount of their lifelong store of chemicals through breastfeeding; and (2) our collective exposure to chemicals that can remain in our tissues for decades means that we do have increasing store of chemicals over time.

Notwithstanding the fact that breast milk appears to be partially protective against effects of these toxic chemicals and the benefits of breastfeeding still far outweighs the risks; the awareness that along with its antibodies, enzymes and general goodness, breast milk may contain dozens of compounds that can be linked to negative health.

  • Small amount of aluminium was shown to absorb through the skin when using antiperspirants.
  • A very small dose of aluminium entered the milk whilst less was orally absorbed by the fetus.
  • Decrease in milk supply was reported when exposed to high dose of aluminium.
  • Daily exposure to large dose of antiperspirant that contains aluminium can cause bone damage and tiredness for pregnant woman.

Lack of Awareness among Parents

A recent poll of over 500 parents showed that 50% of children between 4 to 11 years old are using deodorants or antiperspirants by age of 11. In the same study, only about 38% of parents are aware of the potential harmful chemicals that are contained in mainstream antiperspirants found in supermarket shelves.

Is antiperspirant doing you more harm than good? It is not just only about aluminium! Do you also know that antiperspirants may actually make you smell worse! Let’s explore why do a person smell and what happens when you use antiperspirant in this article 4 Things Wrong with your Antiperspirants.

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