KNOW THIS: Deodorant and antiperspirant contain potentially cancer causing toxic ingredients.
WHY? These compounds mimic estrogen, which promotes growth of breast cancer cells.
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT? Swap to paraben and aluminium-free antiperspirant deodorant, or better go without.
Deodorant really is the pits
I think antiperspirant is the pits. And what stinks more than not wearing it, is what’s in it. Although there is currently no proof that the aluminium and parabens in antiperspirant cause cancer, studies show that both ingredients mimic estrogen – which is said to play a part in breast cancer formation. So why risk putting these potentially cancer causing ingredients under your armpits, right over glands and near the area where most breast cancer starts?!
Parabens are a very common preservative found in cosmetic products, however because if its link to cancer, some brands are proudly omitting it from their ingredients.
Aluminium is commonly one of the main ingredients in antiperspirant, because it acts as a plug within the sweat ducts and temporarily stop the flow of sweat. But the concern is that it can be absorbed by your skin. Just like parabens, aluminium can mimic estrogen, which causes gene instability and promotes growth of breast cancer cells. So it’s not surprising that a study by a Manchester hospital found high levels of aluminium in the breast tissue of women who’d had mastectomies.
The EU has published a statement of caution that antiperspirant should not be applied to damaged or irritated skin, yet it is common to shave the underarm area before applying antiperspirant.
When you put something on your skin, it can enter your bloodstream, and because our underarm tissue contains hormone receptors, they could react to some of the toxic ingredients found in antiperspirants and deodorants. And guess what? 50% of breast cancers start in the upper outer quadrant of the breast, local to the underarm region. Suss right?
An oncologist at the University of Reading, has shown that mixing different parabens can strengthen their estrogenic effects. So why isn’t there conclusive evidence linking deodorant chemicals to cancer? Well, proving the mixture of ingredients could cause or contribute to cancer is nearly impossible, as cancer is a complex multistage process, and its development can take many years.
Phthalates are also concerning as they appear to disrupt the way your body produces and uses the hormone testosterone. They could impair reproductive ability in men, or worryingly impact fetal development in pregnant women. Research has also linked phthalates to lower IQs and higher rates of asthma.
So how do you avoid these chemicals while keeping your friends?
Personally I found paraben and aluminium free antiperspirants to be pretty ineffective, so rather than wasting my money any more, I decided to go completely deodorant free. Brave, you might think. Yes at first. But now I’ve detoxed, I honestly don’t need it.
People who wear standard antiperspirant get caught in a cycle. Once you start using it daily, after a while it can change the bacterial microbiome in your armpits, making you overproduce bad bacteria and make your sweat smellier. So when you forget to use it for one day, your sweat may smell strong, making you think you can’t live without it. However if you stop using antiperspirant for a while, your body slowly gets back to how it should be and produces less bacteria, meaning you don’t smell as much. To get through the detox stage quicker, you can perform a detox on your armpits with a clay mask (I wish I’d known about this before).
If it’s a particularly hot day, or I’m wearing a synthetic tight top that I know will make me sweaty, I’ll use a natural mineral salt stick, that you wet and rub under your armpit, and I find it works really well . Oh and I try not to eat onions, because they really make you stink! My sister swears by rubbing a slice of lemon under your armpit to neutralise bad bacteria.
Whatever way you decide to go, try and use as few chemicals on your skin as possible, and especially avoid aluminium and parabens.