Aluminium in deodorants could be the cause of breast cancer in women. Or so it was reported not so long ago.
But where did this story come from and is it really true?
Why Is Aluminium Found In Deodorants?
Deodorants are devised to help neutralise the odour arising from the breakdown of bacteria in perspiration and sometimes also combine with an agent to prevent sweating. Anti-perspirants, for instance, are a deodorant product which actively blocks the glands from perspiring. This is done using various aluminium compounds, which react with electrolytes in perspiration to ‘clog’ the gland with a gel-like substance. Some of the common aluminium compounds used in deodorant products to do this includes:
- Aluminium zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly
- Aluminium chloride
- Aluminium chlorohydrate
- Aluminium zirconium
Why Could Aluminium Be Harmful?
Aluminium has traditionally been thought of as a safe metal and relatively non-toxic. However research in recent years have suggested that in fact high levels can cause problems with the nervous system which may possibly lead to dementia-type diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Nevertheless, it was not thought to be a pre-cursor to developing cancer.
Aluminium And Breast Cancer
A small research project which looked at the presence of aluminium in breast cancer patients, hit the headlines in 2007 after the distribution of the metal was found to indicate that it could have come from the application of underarm deodorants.
It was theorised by the research team that because levels of aluminium were higher in the outer quadrant of the breast tissue that it may have been a significant factor in the women developing breast cancer but that this was merely a hypothesis to be put forward and not a clinical conclusion.
The message that many people then extrapolated when the story was reported, was that aluminium could cause breast cancer and it would be a risk to use deodorants containing the metal.
The Research Study
However cancer experts are keen to point out that while the jury is still out as to whether or not aluminium could be harmful to health, as yet there is no empirical evidence to suggest that it is.
The initial study carried out took only a very small sample of 17 women who had undergone mastectomies as part of their treatment for breast cancer and looked for aluminium in samples of their breast tissue. However, they did not study a control group of women who either did not have cancer or who did not use deodorant products at all. In addition the team clearly stated that they did not know whether the women whose tissue they analysed had used products containing aluminium in the first place.
What in fact was established was that aluminium was found in breast tissue (from whichever source) and that there were higher levels found in the outer portions of the breast. However the sample was too small and descriptive to be able to substantiate any true pattern and more research will need to be done.
Alternatives To Aluminium
If you are at all worried about aluminium in deodorants and anti-perspirants, then there are many natural, alternative, organic, and chemical-free underarm products available.