Did you know there are a lot of potential deodorant health risks depending on the brand you use? Some of the potential deodorant health risks include cancer, hormone imbalances, allergies and skin irritation, airway problems, neurological problems and even more.
Deodorant Health Risks
Deodorant or antiperspirant. We pretty much all use it each and every day. But what if I told you that many of the deodorants and antiperspirants found in drug stores and grocery stores contain ingredients that could contribute to many different health issues? Health issues like hormone imbalances, skin irritation, allergic reactions, and potentially even cancer. Let's examine these potential risks and the ingredients associated with them in more detail.
Aluminum Health Risks
If you look at the ingredients in your deodorant or antiperspirant you may find aluminum on that list. Unfortunately, research has shown that long term exposure to aluminum from deodorant can lead to accumulation of aluminum in breast tissue, which may increase your risk of breast cancer (this is still controversial). There are a couple ways this can potentially happen:
- Aluminum build up can lead to alterations in DNA which could lead to cancer development (References 1 and 2).
- It is also known that the aluminum can interfere with estrogen receptors, and estrogen has a well established role in the development of breast cancer (References 1 and 2).
However, to date there have been very few studies directly examining the relationship between using aluminum containing antiperspirants and the risk of developing breast cancer, and of the studies that have been done, the results are conflicting: some show an increased risk, and some do not. There are also no randomized controlled trials (the best type of study) examining this topic.
The most recent study done in 2017, which was a case control study, did show an increased breast cancer risk in the people using deodorant or antiperspirant, which is very concerning (reference 11 in the reference list). Hopefully with time there will be more studies done in this area so that we can learn more, but in the mean time, since there are many deodorants on the market that don't use aluminum, I personally choose to avoid this ingredient and err on the side of caution when shopping for deodorant.
Paraben Health Risks
Have a look at your deodorant ingredients. Do you see anything ending with the letters "aben"? - if so, that indicates a paraben. I have talked about the dangers of parabens before, in my post 8 Toxic Skincare Ingredients to Avoid but many people are still not familiar with their risks or what they even are.
Parabens are preservatives found in many beauty and skincare products to help increase their shelf life and stability. They are commonly found in makeup, foundations, face washes, face moisturizers and lotions.
The parabens used most often in personal care products are methyl, ethyl, butyl and propyl paraben, which are used as preservatives and antibacterial agents. Parabens have weak estrogenic and anti-androgenic activity when they are studied in the lab (in vitro) or in animals. In other words, they can cause hormone imbalances. And since hormones are one of the master regulators of the body, this can be a big problem. Hormone imbalances can lead to a number of health problems including thyroid disease, infertility, acne, fatigue, weight gain, etc. And parabens have been linked to breast cancer, skin cancer and decreased sperm counts (References 3-6).
Fragrance Health Risks
Another big issue with deodorants are the fragrances used to scent them. If you head down the deodorant isle you will see all sorts of different scents. From fruity to citrus to vanilla to fresh and breezy (what does that even mean by the way?). You get the idea. The problem is that the ingredients used to make these fragrances can be quite harmful to your health.
Have another look at your deodorant label. Do you see the word "fragrance" or "scent" or "parfum" listed? If so, I recommend tossing that deodorant. Here's why: "fragrances" are considered to be trade secrets. This means that a company doesn't have to disclose any of the ingredients used to make up that fragrance. Hidden within that little unassuming term could be hundreds of chemicals or ingredients that are harmful to your health. And you don't get to know what any of them are. Scary right? In fact, there are over 3000 different ingredients that a company can use to make a fragrance, and you don't get to know what any of them are.
The ingredients used to make fragrances can be carcinogens, hormone disruptors, allergens, airway irritants, neurological-toxins and ingredients linked to infertility. That's why I recommend avoiding any product, not just deodorant, that uses synthetic fragrances or that won't disclose their fragrance ingredients. The risk just isn't worth it.
Benzene Health Risks
If you missed it, many deodorant and antiperspirant sprays have been recalled recently because they were found to contain benzene. Brands like Old Spice, Secret, Sure, and Brut. Benzene is a known carcinogen and can also cause other health problems like aplastic anemia, so you definitely don't want it in your deodorant or antiperspirant.
How to choose a non toxic deodorant
So you may be wondering what type of deodorant you should be using? I always recommend using a natural deodorant or non toxic deodorant. I get it. You don't want to smell all day. Trust me I tried going deodorant free and it was a terribly smelly failed experiment. Luckily there are a lot of safe, natural deodorants out there. However, they are not all created equally. I actually tried a ton of different ones (probably at least 10 different brands) before finally finding one that works.
I wrote an entire post on this topic, The Best Non Toxic Deodorants, which you can read here.
Of all the non toxic deodorants that I've personally tried, I have two favourites:
This is my personal favourite safe deodorant. It neutralizes body odors, goes on clear with no white cast, absorbs sweat, smells amazing, comes in refillable containers (so it’s also better for the environment) and doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients or harmful chemicals.
You buy the initial deodorant, and then simply purchase the refills once your first one runs out. This way it’s better for the environment as it produces less waste. The coconut scent is my favourite, followed by the lavender one.
Primally Pure Deodorant
This is my second favourite non toxic deodorant. The Primally Pure deodorant is also a great option because it’s made with all natural ingredients, is paraben free and is only scented with essential oils and contains no artificial or synthetic fragrances.The Lavender one and charcoal ones are my personal favourites.
Other health information you will like:
- The Best Non-Toxic Laundry Detergents
- Pregnancy Safe Deodorant
- Is there mercury in your mascara?
- Is mineral or chemical sunscreen better?
- How to choose safe cookware
- Are candles toxic?
7. Fragrance: emerging health and environmental concerns.