Dr. McGrath's Corner
Why is aluminum in antiperspirants?
Deodorants are for malodor and antiperspirants are for dryness. Antiperspirants reduce sweat. To do so, antiperspirants use a variety of aluminum salts. The exact mechanism is unknown; however it is thought that the aluminum salts block sweat pores or passage ways and not necessarily sweat gland production.
What is in the deodorant stone?The deodorant stone is claimed as natural and free of harmful aluminum. Most however still do contain alumimum in the form of Potassium Alum. Potassium Alum is mined from bauxite ore (as are most forms of aluminum). If you see mineral salts on the label, ask the company if the salts contain Potassium Alum.
Does aluminum get absorbed?Yes, there are numerous studies demonstrating skin or what is called transdermal absorption of aluminum applied to skin, shaved and unshaved. Aluminum then appears in other parts of the body, such as the brain, breast, and even in the fetuses of pregnant animals. Shaving may facilitate absorption by removing hair and top layers of skin. The hair and skin are no longer there to grab or hold onto the chemicals, allowing easier entrance.
Do chemicals accumulate? In a recent study 18 of 20 breast tumors contained parabens (synthetic preservatives) found in underarm products. Parabens mimic estrogen, and estrogen can drive tumor growth (Journal of Applied Toxicology, February, 2004).
The underarm is a gateway to the lymphatic system, which is an essential part of the immune system, and helps the body fight infection and diseases such as cancer.
Is the underarm a delicate area?
The underarm (axillae) is a very unique, complex, and delicate environment. The axillae consist of skin, hair and 2 main types of liquid secreting glands which form the underarm sweat. One set of glands puts out liquid of water like consistency while the other set of glands puts out, a thicker liquid, containing fatty acids and a chemical know as a pheromone.
Of course what you want to know is where the smell comes from. The odor, more correctly, malodor, is from 3 sources. The glands that produce the water like consistency have no odor. The odors are from the fatty acids and to a greater degree from underarm bacteria breaking down the fatty acids.
Just under the skin of the underarms lies the lymphatic system which collects excess fluid from surrounding cells, returning it to the circulation. More importantly the lymphatic system is part of the immune system fighting off infection, disease and removes foreign particles. Interesting the lymphatic flow in the underarms and breast is bi-directional (a 2 way street), not one way controlled by valves as in other parts of the body. So chemicals applied to one underarm could expose the nearest as well as the farthest breast.
The desire for an underarm product prevails and these hygiene habits begin by age 9 or 10! So, take care of your underarms and breasts, just like your teeth, skin, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and brain.