Will my deodorant give me cancer or Alzheimer's?

For years now there's been a debate on whether aluminum containing compounds (which comprise the active part of the vast majority of deodorants) contribute to or may cause cancer or Alzheimer's disease. Unfortunately, but just like clockwork, this leads to unscrupulous (or just plain ignorant) people trying to take advantage of this situation.

I'm sure many of you have come across people or companies trying to sell "natural" or aluminum-free deodorants. Unfortunately, many of these marketers are really looking out for their profits! Many of them assert that aluminum pretty much causes cancer and Alzheimer's or that there is a definitive link. . . as if they knew! Even the top researchers don't know! This blog is dedicated to shedding some much needed light about the subject and what you can actually do to be a smart TiS (that's Truth in Skincare) consumer!

Don't get me wrong, I am all about nature, and almost always support using naturally found ingredients/components over synthesized ones (because, after all, things found in their natural state are usually safer and better for us). I even have an organic, aluminum-free, natural-based deodorant of my own (more about that later in this blog!). Back to the point, my biggest concern is with people who take extremist views on issues without fully understanding the facts, or even worse, just manipulating truths for their own gain (usually money or notoriety).

THE FACTS: Research shows conflicting data and even more conflicting results about the involvement of aluminum in either cancer or Alzheimer's. Aluminum in the body is not all that shocking actually. Aluminum is the most abundant metal on the planet! It's actually unavoidable to be exposed to it! In fact, significant research shows that even industrial grade exposure to aluminum may not be a health threat. However, it is not fully known what role aluminum may play in the above diseases, if any. It seems that Aluminum can only (possibly) reach a toxic level in patients with kidney disease (chronic renal failure). Most research also shows that dermal (skin) exposure to aluminum is completely safe. Of note: the way that aluminum naturally reacts with the skin, it is EXTREMELY UNLIKELY that it can penetrate beyond the most superficial layers!

So you want to be safe? Look around first, the truth is we are probably internalizing more aluminum by drinking, eating, breathing it (and, oh yeah, we also use aluminum in vaccines so we're pretty much being injected with it too). The reason why it is used in vaccines is because of how safe it is thought to be.

CRITICAL THINKING POINTS: Sure, under normal circumstances let's say the Aluminum can't get into the body through the skin. But certainly, and mostly for women, shaving the underarms changes what we consider "normal conditions." When we shave, we can introduce small cuts & nicks in the skin. This can most definitely allow for easier access of molecules into our bloodstream and into our body. Many deodorants contain a warning not to use on newly shaven, broken, or irritated skin. This is smart advise. Some research, although far from substantive and definitely not definitive, has indicated a possible correlation between shaving/use of aluminum deodorant to breast cancer.

MY ADVICE: The truth is we probably don't have to worry about our deodorants. It is also for certain that aluminum-based deodorants work much better than ones that don't contain aluminum. If you want to switch to an aluminum-free natural-based deodorant, than more power to you. If you feel they are effective for you, then that's great, but, for most people, these natural based deodorants aren't effective enough for daily use.
I personally use an aluminum-free, natural-based deodorant sometimes (usually on days when I won't be leaving the house :-). This is not because it doesn't work, it works fine, but I just wouldn't take any chances in public, and, besides, I like to use deodorants with a combo anti-perspireant effect. I like to smell fresh and stay dry! I use a regular aluminum-based deodorant and am happy with it.

  • don't use deodorants after freshly shaving (making it best to shave at night)
  • don't use on broken or irritated skin
  • maybe think about using an aluminum free deodorant on days when you don't need reliable deodorant coverage
  • if aluminum-free deodorants work for you and you're happy, then go ahead and use them regularly.
Peace Out
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Anonymous said...

Wow, thanks Dr. David . . . I have been wondering about this topic actually. I was reading at this one holistic site that for sure it causes all these lists of diseases, but I was questioning it because their tone was quite desperate and exaggerated.

Thanks for clarifying this up. That was so darn helpful.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post doctor. As alternative to deodorants, I use some drops of magnesium hydroxide, twice a day. Does not block the fluid but prevents the smell.
Other people seem to like it too:

Hope that helps. Have a nice day!