This week, Mary decodes: Aluminum compounds in antiperspirant.

Did you know? Antiperspirant is classified as an over-the-counter drug in both Canada and the U.S. Most of us grew up being told to start using antiperspirant at a young age to prevent body odor, but if our teachers and parents were aware that the product was classified as a drug, I am not so sure they would have been quick to suggest it.

What Is Aluminum Chloride?

Aluminum is a heavy metal that most of us are exposed to on a daily basis. It is a naturally occurring element from the earth and is used in the manufacturing of paints, cars, propellant, fuel additives, over the counter medications (like antacids), soda cans, aluminum foil, and antiperspirants.

Aluminum chloride compounds, such as aluminum chlorohydrates and aluminiumzirconium tetrachlorohydrex are the most effective antiperspirant agents you’ll find in conventional antiperspirants today.

How Does It Work?

Aluminum compounds in antiperspirants combine with sweat to form a gel-like plug, which prevents and constricts the sweat gland duct to perspire.

This is what keeps your underarms dry.

While this may sound like a good thing, preventing your body from sweating traps toxins in your body. Sweating also play a vital role in regulating your body’s temperature.

Long-term Use Effects

Long-term usage of antiperspirant actually creates more bacteria on your armpits once you stop using themcausing increased breakthrough odor in the beginning.

Long-term usage has also shown to form increased levels of aluminum compounds in the body, known as “body burden”. The body burden of aluminum in humans is similar to how fish become laden with mercury over time.

There is a reason why antiperspirants are classified as an over-the-counter drug — your body becomes dependent on it!

Why Should I Be Worried?

Unfortunately, aluminum compounds have been found to be able migrate into your bloodstream, as confirmed by blood tests. Women who shave their underarms then apply antiperspirant are more at risk for aluminum compounds to enter the body. Shaving creates micro-abrasions, causing pores to be more susceptible to absorption of chemicals.  

Over the past decade, the FDA issued warnings on antiperspirant labels for individuals with weakened kidneys to be aware. You’ll often find the warning that reads, “Ask a doctor before use if you have kidney disease.”

Remember, what you put ON your body is as important as what you put IN your body.

Why is Aluminum In Antiperspirant So Controversial?

The topic of aluminum in cosmetic products is a controversial one. While there are little scientific evidence that links antiperspirants to breast cancer or Alzheimer’s disease, these chemicals are still being applied directly on the skin every day. The long-term health effects from the body burden of aluminum are essentially unknown. The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence of a harmful effect.

In my opinion, why run the risk? It is always better to practice PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE.  It is up to you as a consumer to make the decision if this is a risk to your health.

If you are an antiperspirant user making the switch to natural deodorant, it is important to know that this odor-causing bacteria won’t last forever, it is just a part of The Stages of Detox that happens when you discontinue use. This is one easy lifestyle change you won’t regret making.

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