Incriminated by various studies in recent years, aluminum-based antiperspirants are cause for concern. Although the debate is not settled, it is better to apply the precautionary principle to minimize the risk of breast cancer.
While a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Innsbruck (Austria) links the aluminum salts present in antiperspirant deodorants to the doubling of the risk of breast cancer, there are many of us who now prefer to rely on the precautionary principle and avoid these substances. Although, to date, it is not prohibited in the formulation of cosmetics.
So, should we really ban aluminum salts from our hygiene products?
The formidable effectiveness of aluminum salts against perspiration
According to toxicologist André Cicolella, the explosion in the number of breast cancers that we have seen since 1980 is largely due to hundreds of questionable synthetic molecules (phthalates, bisphenol, parabens, PCBs, etc.) found in the environment and in many consumer products.
Aluminum salts, which lurk everywhere - in food, tap water, certain drugs and cosmetics - have also long been suspected. Most antiperspirants contain it because they are terribly effective in slowing down sweating: applied to the skin, they reduce the diameter of the pores, and therefore mechanically oppose the secretion of sweat. Ideal for preventing foul-smelling halos from forming on clothing.
The other side of the coin: they are spread under the armpits, that is, not far from the breasts and the lymph nodes that drain the mammary gland. A particularly sensitive area. Hence the legitimate question of the harmlessness of these aluminum salts present in these everyday cosmetics. The controversy seemed to be over since 2012, when the European Scientific Committee for Consumer Safety (SCCS) claimed that "aluminum in cosmetics was not likely to be carcinogenic".
Data that establishes a link between aluminum salts and cancer
But in September 2016, researchers at the University of Geneva (Switzerland) once again threw a stone in the pond with a study published in the International Journal of Cancer. The results of their work seem alarming: if we expose mice breast cells for four to six months to aluminum salts, they become malignant. Injected into the body of rodents, they give rise to aggressive tumors and the formation of metastases.
Of course, we are not mice. But these same researchers had already shown five years ago that aluminum disrupts the behavior of human breast cells grown in the laboratory. Even at doses 2000 to 10,000 times lower than those contained in antiperspirants!
The study by Austrian scientists, published in June 2017 in the journal EBioMedicine, also goes in this direction. As part of their research, the scientists compared their report to deodorant of 209 healthy women and 209 women with breast cancer. Result: those who use an antiperspirant containing aluminum salts from a young age, several times a day and on shaved armpits, double their risk of developing breast cancer. Researchers are also finding higher levels of aluminum in the breast tissue of sick women.
Therefore beware if the skin is damaged, in the event of scratching, eczema or recent hair removal: according to the doctors of Asef (Association for health and environment in France), "on damaged skin, the amount of aluminum that penetrates is multiplied by six ". The National Agency for Health Products and Medicines recommends in any case not to use anti-perspirants or deodorants "after shaving or in the event of damage to the skin". She also adds that "it is recommended that this information appear on the packaging."
In principle, it is therefore better to play it safe and opt for products without aluminum, which neutralize odors but do not block the flow of sweat. Check that these ingredients are not listed on the packaging: aluminum chloryde / hydrochloride / chlorydrex / sesquichlorydrate / zirconium. Beware of the plebiscite of alum stone: although natural, it also contains aluminum salts!
There are also a lot chemical-free, natural options ; have a look at our deodorants collection, there's plenty to choose from, and it's as efficient as the commercial, chemical ones.