What am I Putting Under my Armpit?… Is Antiperspirant Safe?

Its something we do everyday, just a normal part of our morning routine.  But have you ever stopped to think about whats in the sweet smelling Old Spice that all the ladies love and what keeps your pits from looking like a pool?  Since the ancient Egyptians, humans have been placing scents under their arms, but like many other products most of those ingredients are concocted in a lab rather than being all natural.  Deodorants and brands have definitely evolved from the first commercial product (Mum brand in 1888), to now a wide variety at any given store.  Seeing strange Axe commercials and Terry Crews on a horse has just become an accepted part of the lifestyle and trend of this product.

terry crews blog

The Scare…

Why do we use products like these in the first place?  There is actually two types that perform different tasks. Deodorant is just a scent while antiperspirant blocks sweat as well.  This blocking of the sweat is where the rumors, issues, and fears arise.  We try so hard to block a natural body process that it doesn’t seem healthy.  According to a Huffington Post article, Americans spend a whopping 18 billion dollars a year on deodorant. Yep, thats a billion with a “B”.  Another fear surfaces due to the fact that many antiperspirants (not all) contain some form of aluminum.  This aluminum has be hypothesized to have correlations to breast cancer and even Alzheimer’s.  The correlation does not equal causation in these cases so no need to worry.  It had been guessed that as you put on the deodorant, the aluminum chemical gets through your skin to cause shifts in your body that put the individual at risk for cancer.  Instead what actually happens is that the aluminum mixes with your sweat to create a stoppage outside of your pores instead of penetrating the skin, meaning the aluminum does not poison you by entering the body.  This is straying from popular rumor that all the chemicals actually enter you from under your arm possibly doing harm. Another instance where the correlation did not equal causation was with the Alzheimer’s claim.  In the 1960’s, tests on Alzheimer’s brains showed aluminum however there was no evidence to show this was because of antiperspirants.  This was yet another speculation.

deodorant image blog

Wheres the Evidence?

Of course there have been other suggestions of other terrible life threatening illnesses due to applying this everyday, another being kidney failure.  The common theme reoccurs with all of these theories.  There is no way enough aluminum could enter the body to cause these ailments.  Tons and tons of exposure could perhaps be a culprit but not the little exposure from a hygienic product. How does something like this with seemingly no strong support gain momentum?  When something is speculated, it is so easy nowadays to spread false or even misleading info or “studies” that can definitely appear to be true.  Lucky enough for this topic it seems as if we are all safe from the deadly Axe.

A Rumor?

These speculations have no substantial evidence or testing to back them up.  In turn, it probably would be nicer to know you are putting better ingredients under your arm everyday, but with correlation not equaling causation you can continue applying that old spice without worrying about drastic effects under your armpit.

Best Old Spice Commercials


Web MD

Huffington Post


2 thoughts on “What am I Putting Under my Armpit?… Is Antiperspirant Safe?

  1. Rebecca Aronow

    I’m one of those people who’s super wary about what I put into/onto my body. I’ve been told and have read many times not to use antiperspirants specifically because of what you said, that it’s blocking a natural process from occurring, which can cause toxins to accumulate. I also read many articles about the possible link between aluminum and breast cancer, and since I have a history of breast cancer in my family that was also a point of concern for me. So for a while I tried just using deodorant, but it didn’t work well enough and I found myself smelling in the middle of the day after even a little bit of sweating, so I went back to using antiperspirants even though I didn’t trust that they were good for me.

    I know that there’s basically no scientific studies that show that antiperspirants cause breast cancer—one study actually assumed that association implies causation (something we learned early in class is NOT true), as they sent around a questionnaire and found that younger women with breast cancer used antiperspirants (http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/athome/antiperspirants-and-breast-cancer-risk). But we know that that association doesn’t mean that antiperspirants were the cause of the breast cancer, even though there is a correlation. It has also been noted that only a very small percentage of aluminum is actually absorbed into the skin from the application of antiperspirants.

    However, with all of this information, I’d still rather be cautious, especially because scientific evidence can reveal itself as more studies are conducted. After years of trying different natural deodorants (Tom’s is the most recognizable example) that NEVER worked, I finally found one that seems to be working incredibly well. This Lavilin 72hr odor protection (http://lavilin.com/pages/about-us) has no aluminum, alcohol, or other bad chemicals and seeks to neutralize odor instead of blocking sweat. I’ve only been using it for about a week but it’s been working so well in the heat and keeps me from smelling for at least the entire day, sometimes more! So even though there’s no firm evidence that antiperspirants are bad for us or cause breast cancer, I still feel better knowing that if it does and we just don’t know I’m being cautious and avoiding putting those chemicals into my body.

    1. Sabrina Chan

      Honestly, at this point, we use so many man-made chemical products in our daily lives that I am prepared to die by deodorant use. I would rather face the long-term risk of dying or illness than the social embarrassment of smelling bad on the daily.

      However, this article, written by Laura Moss ** http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/natural-beauty-fashion/stories/5-deodorant-alternatives ** lists five natural deodorants you can make or get with ease. Lemon juice seems amazingly fresh, and I have many friends that actually use this method. With good hygiene (ie. showering regularly), they say lemon juice lasts them all day. Although, there are no antiperspirant qualities to these natural concoctions, so that opportunity cost is for you to consider.

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