Post by Emily White
For many, deodorant is an essential toiletry to have in your bathroom cabinet. That is of course if you want your friends and colleagues to come within a 2-metre radius of you. However many people are unaware of just how bad the ingredients in this product could actually be for you. Sure, we all know that deodorant probably isn’t the best thing for you- but we rationalize it as the lesser of two evils (the greater evil being body odor). However if we knew just how harmful it potentially could be- I’m sure we would all think twice about it. I mean it doesn’t make sense to carefully plan out your diet and avoid potentially harmful ingredients in food, only to absorb them through our skin!
Aluminium is possibly the most well known harmful ingredient in deodorant, and for good reason. Aluminium is a chemical that is absorbed through the underarm tissue and aims to block the sweat ducts so that it reduces the amount of sweat we produce. The effects that long-term exposure to this active antiperspirant agent has on the body are somewhat unknown, however research is pointing in the hazardous direction (particularly in relation to breast cancer). One study in particular highlights a inexplicably high incidence of breast cancer located in the upper outer quadrant of the breast (close to the armpit) coupled with findings of genomic instability in the same region support the hypothesis for the role of locally applied cosmetics and breast cancer (1). Furthermore aluminium is known to cause both DNA changes and epigenetic effects which could potentially play a role in the development of breast cancer, should this occur in breast cells (2).
Parabens are another potentially harmful ingredient found in deodorant. There are concerns with Parabens and potential endocrine disrupting effects. It is thought that they could possibly mimic estrogen, which could harm our reproductive system (3). For more information on Parabens check out this post on skin care.
Finally, triclosan another potentially harmful ingredient, is an antibacterial agent. This ingredient has raised concerns due to possible associations with the role it may play in cancer development, potentially due its estrogenicity or ability to inhibit fatty acid synthesis (4).
So what is one to do? Wearing nothing at all isn’t really an option for majority of the population so how can we avoid body odour but reduce our exposure to these potentially harmful chemicals? Natural deodorants without all of these harmful chemicals have come a long way in recent years. I swear by and use a deodorant paste made up of natural ingredients such as Shea butter and coconut oil. For me personally I have trust issues when it comes to natural deodorant (as none seem to be truly effective) but the paste actually seems to work! Many health stores sell deodorant pastes or they can be easily found online. With the many potential health risks associated with these products, it really isn’t worth taking the chance, and with easy, safer alternatives readily available, why would you?
1. Darbre, P. D. (2005). Aluminium, antiperspirants and breast cancer. Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry, 99(9), 1912-1919. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2005.06.001
2. Darbre, P. D. (2006). Environmental oestrogens, cosmetics and breast cancer. Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 20(1), 121-143. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beem.2005.09.007
3. Boberg, J., Taxvig, C., Christiansen, S., & Hass, U. (2010). Possible endocrine disrupting effects of parabens and their metabolites. Reproductive Toxicology, 30(2), 301-312. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.reprotox.2010.03.011
4. Dinwiddie, M. T., Terry, P. D., & Chen, J. (2014). Recent Evidence Regarding Triclosan and Cancer Risk. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 11(2), 2209-2217. doi: 10.3390/ijerph110202209
Research and popular science articles by the members and faculty of the Holistic Performance Institute.