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July 26, 2017
By A. Weinberg, Contributing Columnist
Deodorant is something that you roll on (or spray on)
every morning. The product is almost something that you
don’t even remember using, an action as automatic as
putting water on for your favorite caffeinated beverage or
brushing your teeth.
While deodorant is something we take for granted now,
the pleasant-smelling stuff has only been around for a
short while, in the grand scheme of things. And at the cost
of smelling our best or not sweating, we may be putting
some substances in our bodies that aren’t ideal. The way
we scent our bodies is still quite in process.
A Little History of Deodorant Use
Before anyone wore deodorant, they just used perfume
instead. The kind that you dab on the inside of your wrists
or on your neck, if that is your style.
The product most resembling modern-day deodorant came
about in 1888, marketed under the brand Mums. While
today’s products have different ingredients, Mums was
zinc-based and applied with fingers.
The first deodorant similar to what we have nowadays
arrived on the scene in 1952 and the first aerosol product
However, our current products are going through scrutiny,
due to their chemical makeup and potential toxicity.
The Aluminum Oxide Scare
The deodorant ingredient most under the microscope
these days is aluminum oxide.
According to dermatologist Dr. Eric Hanson of the
University of North Carolina's Department of Dermatology,
aluminum ions are taken into the cells that line the eccrine-
gland ducts at the opening of the epidermis, the top layer
of the skin. When the aluminum ions are drawn into the
cells, water goes with them. As more water flows in, the
cells begin to swell, squeezing the ducts closed so that
sweat can't get out.
The mechanism seems harmless, but the biggest
controversy and scare these days is whether aluminum
oxide may be causing breast cancer. There are opinions on
both sides, but correlation has been found. Additionally,
aluminum oxide has been discovered to interfere with the
endocrine system and be linked to many diseases.
Read on to find a little bit more about aluminum and other
concerns about using the modern, average deodorant
1. Aluminum-based Deodorant Can Cause Alzheimer’s?
While there has been controversy about aluminum and
deodorant, a 2009 report by Daniel Krewski at the
University of Ottawa confirms that only very small amounts
of aluminum are needed to produce neurotoxicity.
Additionally, incremental acquisitions of the chemical over
a lifetime can make a difference. Immediate steps should
be taken to lessen human exposure to aluminum. Avoiding
products with aluminum in your day-to-day life is pretty
simple and could be the best method to avoid Alzheimer’s
later in life.
2. Deodorant with Fragrance Causes Allergies
If you have sensitive skin, deodorants, especially
deodorants containing fragrance, have a tendency to
cause a bad reaction. In 2011, M.V. Heisterberg and
experts from the University of Copenhagen analyzed
studies of fragrance allergy amongst Danish eczema
patients. They examined 17,716 people patch tested with
fragrance markers from the European baseline series
between 2005 and 2009.
Deodorants turned out to be a leading cause of fragrance
allergy, especially amongst men.
3. Deodorant Can Disrupt Your Hormones
Deodorant, as well as many products, have been found to
have estrogenic potential.
Even if you avoid specific kinds of deodorant yourself and
use natural products, unfortunately some may enter the
aquatic environment via wastewater, according to Claudia
Lange from the Institute for Sanitary Engineering. Lange
and her team studied 62 single substances commonly
found in deodorant and other beauty products and
discovered that eight of the substances were estrogenic,
similar to parabens.
Some people fear this may lead to a higher risk of breast
cancer in both women and men. However, being
hormonally volatile or having extra estrogen in the
environment isn’t great, either.
4. Deodorant May Cause Breast Cancer in Women and Men
Everything seems to be linked with cancer, and deodorant
is no exception. This point is still controversial, but studies
have at least found correlation between the use of
traditional deodorant and the development of breast
In 2003, researchers from the Saint Joseph Hospital in
Chicago examined the frequency of antiperspirant and
deodorant usage with underarm shaving and the age of
diagnosis. 437 females diagnosed with breast cancer were
surveyed. The results revealed a link between
antiperspirant/deodorant/shaving and an earlier diagnosis
of cancer. The report mentions that the absorption of
aluminum salts is facilitated by dermal barrier disruption.
5. Some Deodorants Contain Pesticides
In addition to aluminum, deodorants often contain the
antibacterial agent triclosan.
Triclosan is found in many everyday hygiene products,
including toothpaste. The substance is a risk to human
health, as well as the environment.
Triclosan has been linked to allergies, weight gain,
inflammatory dysfunction and thyroid dysfunction. Even
possible fetal development interference and triclosan have
been correlated. According to Dr. James Steckelberg,
professor of medicine at the Mayo Medical School, triclosan
might alter hormone regulation and be harmful to the
6. Perfumed Deodorant Causes Migraine Headaches
Wanting to smell nice and have pleasant scents on your
body and around you is natural. However, your deodorant
might inadvertently be causing some issues.
According to Vincent Martin, M.D., a headache specialist at
the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, strong
odors may activate the nose's nerve cells, which stimulate
the nerve system associated with head pain.
Ironically, the offending scents are often pleasant. The
problem seems to be international and probably universal.
According to a 2016 report by A. Steinemann from the
University of Melbourne, 33% of Australians report
migraine headaches and asthma attacks.
7. Deodorant, In Rare Cases, Can Cause Heart Failure
Aerosol deodorant has got some pretty toxic stuff in there.
And, as we know, in life, everything is about dosage.
If you are obsessed with smelling good and spray yourself
constantly with deodorant, this could lead to heart failure.
In one unusual case, Jonathan Capwell, a 16-year-old
from Manchester, was found dead in the bathroom. The
autopsy report revealed 10 times the lethal amount of
butane and propane in his blood. A 2012 study by
Riccardo Rossi from the Catholic University of the Sacred
Heart affirms that post hydrocarbon gas can cause fatal
8. Deodorant Alters Bacteria (and can actually make you
In the long term, deodorant, particularly antiperspirant, is
not favorable to your underarm bacterial community and
could actually make you smell worse.
In 2014, C. Callewaert from the Ghent University in
Belgium studied the axillary bacterial community in 9
healthy subjects. They didn’t use deodorant or
antiperspirant for one month. The bacteria turned out to
be stable when applied (or not applied) daily. However,
while the bacteria is more diverse, using applying
antiperspirants daily led to the increase of actinobacteria
which actually develops odour-producing bacteria over the
So if you want to stay generally "un-smelly", perhapsyou
should try a natural deodorant.
9. Antiperspirant Stops You from Sweating
Well duh. But sweating is actually a good thing. It cools
you down and liberates toxins.
Use deodorant instead of antiperspirant, since sweat is
normal and blocking the pores is not, according to authors
Mehmet C. Oz., M.D. and Michael F. Roizen, M.D. in their
book You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for
Extending Your Warranty.
10. Deodorant Aggravates Asthma
A 2010 report by W.J. Crinnion from the Southwest
College of Naturopathic Medicine confirms that there are
certain chemicals in deodorant that aren’t ideal for those
prone to asthma: Phthalates and parabens. These are
ingredients you should avoid, whenever possible. In most
cases, those irritated by asthma, or allergies, is a
significant portion of the population. For example Around
one in three adults in the UK have some form of allergic
disease — asthma, rhinitis or eczema — and their
symptoms are easily aggravated by perfumed products
and exacerbated by aerosol chemicals, says Maureen
Jenkins, director of clinical services at Allergy UK.
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|Deodorant use has been linked to increased
risk for asthma and other conditions.
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