Antiperspirants Osawatomie KS
It's Not the Pits
By Susan Gilbert
We rely on antiperspirants to get us through life’s sticky situations, but the latest news about conventional antiperspirants and deodorants is enough to make anyone break out in a sweat.
The problem: aluminum salts and parabens. Aluminum salts literally block skin pores, providing the “anti” in antiperspirants. Parabens are preservatives widely used in antiperspirants and deodorants. Both chemicals, when absorbed through the skin near the breast, may increase the risk of breast cancer, reports cancer researcher Philippa Darbre in the March issue of Best Practice and Research Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
The use of aluminum salts and parabens in antiperspirants and deodorants has grown over the last half century, and breast cancer most often appears in the area of the breast closest to the underarm, Darbre says, which has spurred scientists to investigate if these ingredients play a role. In a 2003 survey of 437 breast cancer patients, Dr. Kris McGrath, an immunologist at Northwestern University in Chicago, found that the more often the women had used antiperspirants or deodorants, the earlier they had developed breast cancer. The earliest diagnoses were in women who applied these products after shaving under the arms.
Other researchers, however, say this quadrant of the breast simply has the most tissue, making it more susceptible to cancer, thus questioning any causal relationship between deodorants and disease. “I don’t think the research has given us clear answers in terms of a possible link with breast cancer,” says Wendy Mason, director of health science programming at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in Dallas.
Does shaving increase the risks from antiperspirants and deodorants? Perhaps. “Hairless or smooth skin allows for better deposition of applied chemicals from body-care cosmetics,” says Philip Harvey, a toxicologist at Covance Laboratories in North Yorkshire, England. “Regardless, parabens are absorbed through the skin.”
But why take the risk when safe alternatives abound to keep underarms fresh? Though underarm products free of aluminum salts can’t be labeled antiperspirants under federal law, you can decrease perspiration by using products containing astringent herbs such as witch hazel and thyme and by drinking sage tea, according to Deanna Hope Berman, a naturopathic doctor in Ithaca, New York.
Look for deodorants with herbs that combat bacteria—the odor causers. “Herbs that contain high amounts of essential oils work well because they are antibacterial,” Berman says. Potent herbs include thyme, rosemary, sage, lavender, and tea tree oil.
Natural deodorants containing these herbs include Weleda Natural Sage, Tom’s of Maine, and Avalon Organic deodorants. Baking soda also neutralizes underarm odor. Another option—mineral salts, which suppress bacteria. Simple crystal deodorants do the trick—just wet the stone and apply. Lafe’s Hemp Oil deodorant has mineral salts to eradicat...
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