Whether you prefer spray-on antiperspirant, roll-ons or classic stick deodorant, these beauty products come with a long list of chemical ingredients. Some of the names are so long and confusing that you can’t even pronounce them, like aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex. Should you be worried about these chemicals? Is deodorant dangerous?
How Dangerous Is Deodorant?
The answer backed by many scientists is that you have nothing to worry about. According to the available data, most women can whatever deodorant or antiperspirant they like without worrying about developing serious health issues such as breast cancer.According to the American Cancer Society, there aren’t any solid studies linking cancer and antiperspirants, and “very little scientific evidence to support this claim.” The National Cancer Institute takes things a step further, saying that “no scientific evidence links the use of these products to the development of breast cancer.”
Why Do Some People Worry Anyway?
Just because scientists can’t definitively prove a link right now doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Also, there aren’t many studies on deodorant because it’s not a priority.
Even the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can make mistakes. A study found that out of over 200 products approved as safe by the FDA, about 30% needed to have safety warnings added later. Three of those products that were “safe” ended up being pulled from the market.
Something similar happened with Teflon, which used a chemical called PFOA to make nonstick cookware (remember those pans?). For almost 60 years, this chemical was considered to be perfectly safe. Now, scientists understand it’s linked to everything from cancer to diabetes.
Another problem is that the US approaches chemicals as “innocent until proven guilty.” It takes a lot of evidence to get a chemical banned in the United States. More than 40 countries worldwide have banned 1,400 chemicals used in cosmetic products. What about the U.S.? Just 9 chemicals are prohibited here.
What Deodorant Chemicals Do Some People Avoid?
Now, I’m not telling you about this to scare you. After all, it's impossible to completely avoid chemicals in today's world. I just think it's important for you to be able to make an informed decision that you’re comfortable with. Here are a few ingredients some people prefer to live without:
Parabens: These preservatives are used in many skincare products, including some deodorants and moisturizers. Some scientists worry they may mimic female hormones and contribute to cancer problems.
Phthalates: These chemicals help fragrances stay on your skin. They may interfere with hormones and potentially cause problems with fetal development.
Denatured alcohol: Cheap alcohol ingredients such as denatured alcohol, isopropanol and propanol are very irritating for skin.
Aluminum: Some scientists think that aluminum (found in most antiperspirants) may make it easier for breast cancer to grow. If you have severe kidney problems, you should talk with your doctor before using antiperspirant because your body may have trouble getting rid of the aluminum.
Fragrance: Manufacturers can include practically any ingredient and label it as “fragrance.” That makes it hard to know what chemicals you’re putting on your skin. For some people, synthetic fragrances cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.
The good news is that If you prefer to avoid certain ingredients, there are plenty of options on the market. You can choose a fragrance-free alternative or look for “paraben-free” and “phthalate-free” on the label. Put simply, the fewer strange chemicals on a product’s label, the fewer things you have to worry about.