Americans spend $18 billion a year on deodorants and antiperspirants. Are there any health risks from using these products?
The first deodorant was patented and on the market in the late 19th century, invented by a woman named Edna Murphy. It’s name was “Mum”. This product is still on the market, but is now called Ban!
What’s in our deodorants? Most deodorants contain alcohol, which kills bacteria, along with other ingredients such as sodium stearate and sodium chloride. Some contain other agents that kill germs such as the chemical triclosan. Many deodorants contain aluminum, oils, and perfumes.
Many ingredients that used to be in deodorants have been removed due to risks of skin irritation or even because they were cancer causing agents, such as formaldehyde and ammonium chloride.
What about “natural deodorants”? These “crystal” deodorants contain potassium alum, which contains aluminum. There have been problems with skin irritation from these products.
There have been concerns that deodorant use is linked to breast cancer, but so far research has not found any link or increase in breast cancer among deodorant users.
Any deodorant that contains aluminum can be linked to rashes and even genetic effects on DNA. Aluminum may be particularly dangerous for patients with kidney disease. There have been many studies on the safety of aluminum, but so far it has not been found to cause significant effects so continues to be in these products.
The bottom line: Studies to date have not found significant health risks for most people who use deodorants, though ongoing studies continue. “Natural” deodorants are no exception and have chemicals that can also cause problems. The best bet is to use deodorant sparingly, and not overdo or use multiple times per day.