It still floors me that while health foods stores wouldn't dream of selling aluminum-based anti-perspirants, they'll sell several kinds of "crystal" deodorants: sprays, crystal roll ons, the pink tube, the blue tube. These stores are supposed to promote wellness and yet they're selling the smallest, potentially most absorbable form of aluminum you can put on your skin. Ionic aluminum -- the form of aluminum in the crystal deodorants -- has been found to create oxidative stress on skin and breast tissue. Most people don't realize crystal deodorants contain aluminum, and think they're using a safer option than antiperspirants. Manufacturers will say their products are fee from "harmful aluminums." But is there such thing as a safe aluminum? No. It has no benefit or place in the human body, and only promotes oxidation within.
What is aluminum?
Aluminum is the world's most abundant metal in the earth's crust. It is a versatile, lightweight, relatively soft, and durable metal. It's a fairly reactive element that combines with negatively charged ions or elements to form compounds such as aluminum oxide or aluminum sulfate.
How does aluminum enter the body?
We're exposed to aluminum in many ways:
- Trace amounts in drinking water and food
- Baked goods that contain alum-containing baking powder
- Foods with artificial colorants (aluminum lakes, example: yellow 5 aluminum lake)
- Cooking acidic foods in aluminum cookware (the acidity causes the aluminum to leach)
- Over-the-counter medicines such as Maylox and Mylanta
- Topical products such as deodorants or anti-perspirants
How does aluminum affect our health?
Unlike other metals such as potassium and magnesium, aluminum has no benefit or function in the body.
- Aluminum creates oxidative stress on cells throughout the body, causing damage to DNA and aging on cells. (Source)
- Aluminum-containing anti-perspirants keep the body from sweating and properly releasing hormones out of the body. This is a suspected cause of breast and prostate cancer. (Source)
- Aluminum accumulates in bone tissue, thus weakening it. (Source) It is a suspected cause of osteoporosis.
- "Once absorbed, Al accumulates in bone, brain, liver and kidney, with bone as the major site for Al deposition in humans." (Source)
- Aluminum robs the body of magnesium, calcium and iron, and accumulates in the brain. "Trace aluminum levels cross the blood-brain barrier and progressively accumulate in large pyramidal neurons of the hippocampus, cortex, and other brain regions vulnerable in Alzheimer's disease. More aluminum enters the brain than leaves, resulting in a net increase in intraneuronal aluminum with advancing age. Aluminum is responsible for two main types of toxic damage in cells. As a pro-oxidant, aluminum causes oxidative damage both on its own and in synergy with iron. Aluminum also competes with, and substitutes for, essential metals-primarily Mg2+, iron and Ca2+ ions-in or on proteins and their co-factors." (Source)
- Aluminum has been found to cause granulomas. (Source)
- Aluminum is toxic to skin and creates oxidative stress (Source)
- Aluminum is absorbed highly by abraided or irritated skin. (Source)
- This study found that ionic aluminum created oxidative stress in breast tissue. (Source)
Because it's an abundant element in our world, it's impossible to avoid aluminum entirely. However, there are things we can do to reduce our exposure, like avoiding aluminum cookware and aluminum compounds in personal care products.