Is Antiperspirant Dangerous?

There has been a lot of debate on the use of antiperspirants and their potential health risks. Some people believe that certain chemicals in antiperspirants, such as aluminum, can accumulate in the body and cause kidney damage or breast cancer over time. However, current research does not support the idea that antiperspirants can cause kidney disease or breast cancer.

Why would anyone think antiperspirants are dangerous?

To understand the potential link between antiperspirants and disease, it’s important first to understand how antiperspirants work. Antiperspirants are designed to reduce sweating by blocking the sweat glands with aluminum-based compounds. These compounds react with the water in sweat to form a gel-like substance that blocks the pores and prevents sweat from escaping.

While antiperspirants are generally considered safe, there is concern that the aluminum compounds they contain may accumulate in the body over time.

Some believe that a build-up of aluminum could cause harm to the kidneys. The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste products from the blood and excreting them in urine. Some researchers believe that aluminum can accumulate in the kidneys and cause damage to the nephrons, the tiny structures in the kidneys that filter the blood.

In the same way, some researchers have suggested that a build-up of aluminum could affect the estrogen receptors in breast cells. The American Cancer Society recognizes the concern but says there is no clear evidence, and the National Cancer Institute says there is no evidence for this claim. 

Why antiperspirants are not a significant source of aluminum

The fear about antiperspirants is based on the idea that aluminum could be absorbed through the skin. Over years of use, the thinking goes, it could build up in the body. However, the evidence on this topic doesn’t support this idea, and no research has yet shown a definitive link between antiperspirants and kidney disease or breast cancer.

Aluminum can build up in the body, but this is generally seen in aluminum welders who breathe in vaporized aluminum particles. Aluminum does not appear to be absorbed by the skin. It doesn’t even seem to be absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract — that is, even eating antiperspirant might not cause high levels of aluminum in the body. 

And you’re not planning to eat antiperspirant. 

If you’re still concerned…

If you love using antiperspirants, you should feel reassured about their safety. If you’re not entirely comfortable, it’s easy to avoid aluminum. Not all antiperspirants contain aluminum compounds, and alternative products are available that use different ingredients to reduce sweating.

Again, aluminum poisoning is generally a work-related problem for people dealing directly with aluminum in industrial situations. 

If you are concerned that you might be at increased risk of breast cancer or kidney disease, talking to your healthcare provider about the best ways to protect your health is important.


Image courtesy of Canva.