05 April 2014
Exposure to Aluminum in Antiperspirants May Present Health Risks
The People’s Pharmacy, 6 February 2014
Most people do several things in the morning without ever thinking twice. They wash their face, brush their teeth and roll on their antiperspirant. Hardly anyone bothers to look at the ingredients on the label, but chances are very good that with every application of antiperspirant you are getting a dose of aluminum.
A recent article in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology titled "If exposure to aluminium in antiperspirants presents health risks, its content should be reduced" offers some sobering points. The French and Swiss scientists summarize their overview:
"Since aluminium (Al) pervades our environment, the scientific community has for many years raised concerns regarding its safety in humans. Al is present in numerous cosmetics such as antiperspirants, lipsticks and sunscreens. Al chlorohydrate is the active antiperspirant agent in underarm cosmetics and may constitute for Al a key exposure route to the human body and a potential source of damage. An in vitro study has demonstrated that Al from antiperspirant can be absorbed through viable human stripped skin. The potential toxicity of Al has been clearly shown and recent works convincingly argue that Al could be involved in cancerogenic processes. Nowadays, for example, Al is suspected of being involved in breast cancer. Recent work in cells in culture has lent credence to the hypothesis that this metal could accumulate in the mammary gland and selectively interfere with the biological properties of breast epithelial cells, thereby promoting a cascade of alterations reminiscent of the early phases of malignant transformation. In addition, several studies suggest that the presence of Al in human breast could influence metastatic process. As a consequence, given that the toxicity of Al has been widely recognized and that it is not a physiological component in human tissues, reducing the concentration of this metal in antiperspirants is a matter of urgency."
Most people assume that when they apply something to their underarms it just stays on the top of the skin. They never think twice about actual absorption. And yet if you've seen television commercials about "low T" you undoubtedly have seen the ads for Axiron. This is a liquid testosterone that has a unique applicator device for applying the hormone directly to the "axilla" or underarm. In other words, the armpit is a lovely locale for absorbing testosterone directly into the body.
Hmmm. So why wouldn't you be absorbing aluminum chlorohydrate from your antiperspirant into your body when you apply it to your axilla? That is exactly what happened to one woman:
"Aluminum salts such as aluminum chlorohydrate (ACH) are known for use as an active antiperspirant agent that blocks the secretion of sweat. A local case report of hyperaluminemia in a woman using an aluminum-containing antiperspirant for 4 years raises the problem of transdermal absorption of aluminum (Al)."
We especially worry about aluminum absorption if a woman showers, shaves her armpits and then applies an antiperspirant.
A number of concerns have been raised about aluminum toxicity in the human body. An article in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry examined the effect of aluminum on blood vessels in the brain, in particular around the hippocampus, where Alzheimer's disease evolves:
"Once biologically available aluminum bypasses gastrointestinal and blood-brain barriers, this environmentally-abundant neurotoxin has an exceedingly high affinity for the large pyramidal neurons of the human brain hippocampus. This same anatomical region of the brain is also targeted by the earliest evidence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) neuropathology. The mechanism for the selective targeting and transport of aluminum into the hippocampus of the human brain is not well understood. In an effort to improve our understanding of a pathological aluminum entry system into the brain, this study examined the aluminum content of 8 arteries that supply blood to the hippocampus, including the aorta and several cerebral arteries. In contrast to age-matched controls, in AD patients we found a gradient of increasing aluminum concentration from the aorta to the posterior cerebral artery that supplies blood to the hippocampus. Primary cultures of human brain endothelial cells were found to have an extremely high affinity for aluminum when compared to other types of brain cells. Together, these results suggest for the first time that endothelial cells that line the cerebral vasculature may have biochemical attributes conducive to binding and targeting aluminum to selective anatomical regions of the brain, such as the hippocampus, with potential downstream pro-inflammatory and pathogenic consequences."
This is not the first time we have seen the word neurotoxin applied to aluminum. Although many health professionals have assumed this is just an old wives tale, researchers are actively studying the impact of aluminum on brain and what they are discovering is not reassuring. Here is a overview published in the journal Toxicology, Jan, 2014.
"Epidemiological studies suggest that aluminum may not be as innocuous as was previously thought and that aluminum may actively promote the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease. Epidemiological data is strengthened by experimental evidence of aluminum exposure leading to excess inflammatory activity within the brain...Evidence is outlined supporting the concept of aluminum's involvement in hastening brain aging. This acceleration would then inevitably lead to increased incidence of specific age-related neurological diseases."
What's the solution to the aluminum dilemma?
Over the last few years we have developed several deodorant products that rely primarily on magnesium for their effect. These are deodorants, not antiperspirants, but many people find that they do a good job of controlling body odor, especially in the winter when heavy sweating is not the issue.
If you would like to try this product, we are currently offering a special deal: buy 3 original formula MoM (milk of magnesia) roll-on deodorants and get the 4th for free. It will be included in your package, though it won't show up in the electronic shopping cart. When you check out just order 3 and the 4th will arrive automatically.
Here is a link to learn more about MoM and how we developed it.