Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What is Bad about Aluminum in Your Deodorant?

I was going to try and keep this article brief, but that was impossible. However, I did try to consolidate to give you the important tidbits. The reason I am addressing this topic is to provide you with an overview of the health risks that are linked to deodorant and antiperspirants.
In 1993, The World Health Organization said, "There is suspected link between Alzheimer's disease and the toxicity of aluminum. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reports that "Exposure to high levels of aluminum may result in respiratory and neurological problems.
This made me question what aluminum really is and what makes it so bad. Aluminum is one of the most common elements in the environment and the world's most common metal. It is used in making cans and aluminum foil, as lightweight sheet metal in airplanes and other machinery, and in personal care products such as underarm deodorant and antiperspirant. Aluminum oxide, also present in deodorants, is often used as a coating and is the major compound in rubies and sapphires.
Deodorants and antiperspirants have become a part of our lifelong personal hygiene regime, and for what we thought, was a good reason. The majority of people don’t know the difference between deodorants and antiperspirants; many just use whatever appealing brand has the best scent. 
Sweating is your body’s mechanism to cool down. The average person has about 2.6 million sweat glands, and sweat glands come in two types: eccrine and apocrine. 
Eccrine – The majority of sweat glands on your body are eccrine, these are the glands you have on your forehead, and on your hands and on your feet. The eccrine glands are active from birth, and produce sweat free of proteins and fatty acids.
Apocrine – These glands are in your arm pits and in your genital area. The apocrine glands usually end in hair follicles and become active during puberty. The sweat produced by the apocrine glands contains proteins and fatty acids.
Sweat is odorless - the familiar unpleasant odor ("B.O.") is caused by bacteria that live on our skin and hair. These bacteria metabolize the proteins and fatty acids from our apocrine sweat, causing "B.O," or body odor. Deodorants neutralize the odor by killing the bacteria that metabolize the proteins and fatty acids. Antiperspirants, on the other hand, try to prevent sweating by blocking the pores using aluminum. Without sweat, the bacteria cannot metabolize proteins and fatty acids that cause body odor.
Many antiperspirants also have a deodorant component. It might be for this reason that ‘deodorant’ and ‘antiperspirant’ are used interchangeably.
So, just to clarify: Deodorants are products that mask, suppress or neutralize odors. Antiperspirants are products that try to prevent sweating by using aluminum. 
Antiperspirants: The-Over-The-Counter-Drug
It might be a surprise to learn that the antiperspirant you use daily is in fact an over-the-counter (OTC) drug. As mentioned, Antiperspirants work by clogging, closing, or blocking the pores with aluminum salts in order to prevent the release of sweat, effectively changing the function of the body. Antiperspirants are considered to be drugs because they affect the physiology of the body. 
Because antiperspirants are drugs, they are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Consequently, every antiperspirant sold in the US has a Drug Identification Number (DIN), which you can find on the label. A document called ‘monograph’ states requirements for categories of nonprescription drugs such as antiperspirants. It defines for example what ingredients may be used and for what intended use. If the standards of the OTC monograph are met, premarket approval of a potentially new OTC product is not necessary.
Antiperspirants contain many ingredients: the most active ingredient for antiperspirants being Aluminum. Most antiperspirants also contain paraben, an ingredient that is also used in deodorants.
Deodorants and Antiperspirants are Considered to be Safe
Both antiperspirants and deodorants are considered to be safe by the FDA. However, FDA regulation does not mean that a drug is without danger. Like prescription drugs, the FDA oversees OTC drugs to ensure that they are properly labeled and that their benefits outweigh their risks. There are many products or ingredients of products that have become controversial in regards to health effects. However, this does not mean that products will be taken off the market until deemed safe. Often, the FDA does not consider the evidence of danger to consumer’s health strong enough to take action. If you want to research some of the bad decisions the FDA has made in the past, then Google some examples of product that only got pulled off the shelves when it became too obvious that people were dying due to heart attacks caused by these medications: ‘Vioxx’, ‘Celebrex’ and ‘Bextra.’



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1 comment:

  1. Reading this post, I was suddenly remembering 9th grade social studies where we studied the Greeks and Romans. Particularly the part where they used lead as cosmetics and it was in the drinking water (through the aquaducts). I remember thinking "what dummy's! How could they put that on their face for beauty when it was killing them?!" Flashforward 20 years later! Time to rethink what choices I'm making.

    Always love your blog.