Aluminum is the active ingredient in most ant-iperspirants, and it functions by physically blocking sweat glands. (1).
Before we consider the health effects of aluminium in deodorant, we need to know whether it can even be absorbed through the skin. A more recent study shows that aluminium can be absorbed through human skin, and that stripped skin (such as freshly-shaved underarm skin) is significantly more permeable to aluminium than intact skin.
Can aluminium contribute to breast cancer?
What about the link with breast cancer? We know that oestrogen plays a key role in the development of breast cancer, and one study demonstrated that aluminium can interact with oestrogen receptors on human breast cancer cells.
Aluminium and Alzheimer’s disease
We can’t discuss the potential health dangers of aluminium without mentioning Alzheimer’s disease. A review conducted in 2011 points to evidence that aluminium tends to accumulate in brain tissue and is capable of producing Alzheimer’s-like symptoms, and that only small amounts of aluminium are necessary to have a neurotoxic effect. If aluminium from deodorant does indeed make it into systemic circulation, this evidence indicates that it could accumulate in brain tissue over time and possibly contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. Aluminium is also absorbed through the use of foil especially when fatty products are stored in it, or aluminium pans.
Nontoxic alternatives to aluminium
Conventional deodorant isn’t always the easiest thing to replace, but at the very least, try to find a brand that doesn’t contain aluminium. This means avoiding anything that is an “antiperspirant.”
Replace foil with baking parchment paper to wrap foods in; and cook with ceramic or stainless steel.