October being National Breast Cancer Awareness month, I wanted to write about something that most of us don’t normally think about but that can play an important factor in our risk of breast cancer. The application of deodorant or antiperspirant is so imbedded into our daily morning grooming routine that most of us don’t think twice about it – we just roll it on and go about our day. Research suggests that we should start paying attention!
Antiperspirants work by preventing sweat production by blocking our sweat ducts. Aside from inhibiting our body’s natural cooling system, the main problem lies in the ingredient list of most conventional antiperspirants on the market. Aluminum is a common ingredient in most products that may enter the bloodstream and cause changes in estrogen receptors of breast cells. Estrogen can promote the growth of cancer cells in the breast tissue. Studies on Aluminum in the bloodstream also suggest it plays a role in Alzheimer’s disease as well as other neurodegenerative disorders.
Another common ingredient is talc that is a lung irritant and also a possible carcinogen. (Talc was also a common ingredient in baby powder until recently. A much safer alternative to use on our babies are powders made from corn starch). Parabans are another ingredient you want to steer clear of (in your deodorant and other products like shampoo and body washes) because they are also absorbed by the skin and can have weak estrogen-like properties.
We all (or at least the majority of us) need to wear something under our arms to avoid the unsightly sweat marks and odors. What you should be looking for is a natural deodorant/antiperspirant. Look for a glycerin or glyceryl laurate -based product that allows your body to perspire, but blocks the odor-causing bacteria from forming. Witch hazel extract is another safe bacteria-fighting ingredient as are crystal deodorants that are made from mineral salts. Natural essential oils that can help mask odor include lavender, rosemary, lemon & tea tree oil.
Many of us have become conscious of what we put in our mouths – organic fruits and vegetables, antibiotic and hormone-free meats and dairy, etc. What we now need to start doing is being more cognizant of the products we are applying to our skin (the largest organ in our body) because chemicals are being absorbed into the bloodstream and can have negative effects on our health and well-being.
Source: Remedies for Life, October 2011 issue, by Lisa Fabian.