Are aluminium salts in deodorants harmful?

Are aluminium salts in deodorants harmful?

Are aluminium salts in deodorants harmful?

This is a question we often get from people wanting to try our products. A logical question! There is a lot of controversy about the use of aluminium salts and their harmfulness. Some people even think that the use of aluminium in deodorants is linked to breast cancer. However, experts such as the KWF found no link between the use of deodorants and breast cancer. So which of these rumours is true? The Polar Company explains...


What is aluminium?

Aluminium is one of the most abundant elements in the Earth's crust and therefore the most common metal known to man. We get very small amounts of it every day - mainly through our food.

Aluminium is found in fruit and vegetables as well as in Dutch drinking water, which is among the purest and best in the world. In general, the water that comes out of our taps is the most controlled nutrient we have.


Why is aluminium chloride used in antiperspirants?

Aluminium has an anti-perspirant effect. It has the ability to contract skin. In addition, aluminium forms a gel-like protein that (like a plug) temporarily seals the exits of the sweat glands. 

For decades, it has been one of the regular ingredients in deodorants. To clarify, only the addition of aluminium salts turns a "normal" deodorant into a truly effective anti-perspirant.


What is the difference between an aluminium-free deodorant and a product from The Polar Company?

While an aluminium-free deodorant only combats the main consequence of sweating - namely the unpleasant smell - we start much earlier and focus on the cause.

Here's how it works:

Our aim is to avoid sweating as much as possible from the start, so that no unpleasant odour can be produced in the first place. The product soaks into the pores of your skin and acts as a key to preventing you from sweating. However, as you can see in the figure above, the product disappears after a few days so it hardly gets into your body.

Camouflaging sweat odour with fragrances, as normal deodorants try to do, can carry several risks:

If we sweat too much, if our sweat odour is too aggressive, if we wear the wrong clothes, if we use too little deodorant and/or if our fellow man's nose is too sensitive, there is a risk that a normal deodorant will fail to (completely) mask or remove the sweat odour.

But now we come to the question that probably interests every reader: is aluminium chloride carcinogenic?


Is aluminium carcinogenic?

In recent years, aluminium-free deodorants have become increasingly common as people speculate about the health risk of aluminium chloride in antiperspirants. There is no doubt that large amounts of aluminium are unhealthy, although the specific health effects have not yet been studied. It is very important to clearly distinguish between the following two points:

(1) Antiperspirants, like other cosmetics, contribute to the absorption of aluminium chloride.

(2) But is this ingested aluminium chloride also the cause of diseases such as breast cancer or Alzheimer's disease?

To be clear:

No - using an anti-perspirant/deodorant containing aluminium is not carcinogenic!

In order to become ill from aluminium, we have to ingest enormous amounts of it. This is almost impossible for healthy people, because when aluminium enters your body, the metal is broken down and excreted through the kidneys.


How have people come to believe that there is a link between aluminium and cancer?

Possible evidence for such a link comes from research on breast cancer patients, where higher levels of aluminium were detected in breast gland tissue than in healthy tissue of healthy women. 

The observation that aluminium accumulates in breast tumours is also not very valid. As with aluminium deposits in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, it is not clear what causes the disease. Indeed, other minerals are also found in tumours. 


So what do experts say?

Both the KWF and the American Cancer Society found no relationship between deodorant use and breast cancer. They state that the use of aluminium deodorant is perfectly safe.

Dermatologist and medical director Menno Gaastra also speaks reassuring words. "Aluminium is a natural product. Deodorant contains only a small part of the substance: the aluminium salt. If that gets into your body, it can't do any harm."

 In short, products containing aluminium stop sweat being absorbed into the skin for a short time. Normally the product leaves the pores within a few days. If a small amount of aluminium does get into your body, it is excreted through your kidneys and does not cause any health problems. Aluminium is a natural product and research has shown that the use of aluminium salts in deodorants is not related to breast cancer or other health problems.

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