What does aluminum in deodorant do?
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Why Choosing Aluminum-Free Deodorant Is the Healthier Choice for Your Body

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May. 18 2021, Published 1:38 p.m. ET

In these stressful, ever-warming times, deodorant is almost a necessity. Nervous sweats, workout sweats, even meat sweats: no matter what gets you sweating, many Americans have come to depend on the odor-masking power of deodorant. Unfortunately, many name-brand deodorants and antiperspirants are made with metals and chemicals that might not be the best for our bodies. But what does aluminum in deodorant do to our bodies and what alternatives do we have?

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Rolling on deodorant
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What does aluminum in deodorant do?

Consumers who are wary of chemicals in their food or cosmetic products often wonder why those products are there, to begin with. When we speak about antiperspirant or deodorant, compounds like aluminum salts are used as a way to prevent sweating. According to Penn Medicine, aluminum salts dissolve and block sweat from forming on the surface of our pores. It’s an effective method but unfortunately, its very use is preventing a natural and healthy process from occurring.

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Research published in the NCBI suggests that dissolved aluminum salts can accumulate in breast tissue and affect estrogen levels. The bigger concern is that excess aluminum can affect kidney function, especially in large amounts over time. This is why the FDA requires warning labels on antiperspirants for those with kidney disease. According to Penn Medicine, excess aluminum might even be linked to diseases like dementia. 

Miley Cyrus using deodorant
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Does aluminum in deodorant cause cancer?

According to the National Cancer Institute, the hormonal effects of aluminum absorption can result in hormonal side effects, namely, excess estrogen. Estrogen has often been linked to the growth of cancerous cells, which is why many experts agree that antiperspirants might be indirectly responsible for breast cancer. The other argument is that cancerous compounds are absorbed through minuscule razor nicks in the armpits, where they enter the lymph nodes and cause all sorts of trouble.

According to the American Cancer Society, men are usually spared from these types of breast cancers because of their underarm hair, which prevents the absorption of these dangerous metals. Women, who tend to shave their underarms, have no such protection. Unfortunately, there is no direct evidence of this causation, so no deodorant manufacturers have had to place such warning labels on their products.

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Assorted Tom's deodorant
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Does aluminum in deodorant cause Alzheimer's?

According to Cognitive Vitality, there has been no consistent or compelling evidence that links aluminum to Alzheimer's disease. There have, however, been scientific associations between high levels of aluminum and Alzheimer’s and dementia. Again, it’s not enough to prove causation, but it pays to err on the side of caution.

Where can I find aluminum-free deodorant?

The dangers of aluminum may be up for debate, but they have caused enough of a stir among consumers that manufacturers have begun to make aluminum-free alternatives. The hope is that aluminum-free deodorant will one day become the norm. In the meantime, there are a number of aluminum-free deodorants out there to choose from.

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