Join 3,558 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Have antiperspirants been conclusively linked to cancer/Alzheimer's?
May 31, 2011 10:55 AM   Subscribe

Is there any actual, scientific, peer-reviewed truth to the supposed link between antiperspirants and cancer/Alzheimer's?

I work in a crunchy-granola sort of shop that sells "fresh handmade cosmetics" (guess who) and some of my colleagues sell our (non-aluminum, non-antiperspirant) deodorants with what I feel is scaremongering about the dangers of antiperspirants ("they've been directly linked to cancer"; "the aluminum causes Alzheimer's").

On a personal note, I use drugstore, aluminum-based antiperspirant myself, and I'm wondering if it's really that bad. I'm not finding anything recent online to sway me one way or the other.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't have a source at the moment, but I have heard multiple times that the study that purported to show a link between Alzheimer's & aluminium-based antiperspirants was flawed (the aluminium the found in the brain tissue was in fact due to the staining process, as I recall).
posted by james.nvc at 11:16 AM on May 31, 2011


Not a whole lot of studies have attempted to investigate the link between antiperspirants and breast cancer: a controversial 2003 McGrath study suggests that more frequent use of cosmetic products leads to diagnoses of breast cancer at an earlier age, but this 2002 Mirick study, for instance, showed no relationship. You will notice significant flaws in both studies if you read them (data collection, no exclusion of additional risk factors such as genetics, etc).

A more recent 2009 French review study showed no link between cosmetics and cancer – exploring the Related citations on the right side of any of the articles I linked to will provide you with more resources.
posted by halogen at 11:28 AM on May 31, 2011


Here's an article (not just an abstract) about a prospective study that found no association between Alzheimer's disease incidence and antiperspirant or antacid use:

Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease: A Prospective Analysis from the Canadian Study of Health and Aging

Funny thing, lots of folks who oppose the use of aluminum-containing antiperspirants promote "natural crystals" as an alternative - crystals made entirely from aluminum salts!
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 11:28 AM on May 31, 2011


Off-topic but, no, they're alum. Not aluminium.

On-topic, I don't know of any studies that clearly support the link either.
posted by fraula at 11:42 AM on May 31, 2011


Off-topic but, no, they're alum. Not aluminium.

Read the link you posted: "the specific compound is the hydrated potassium aluminium sulfate"—i.e., an aluminum salt.

posted by ixohoxi at 12:08 PM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


There has never been a demonstrated link to cancer or alzheimers. However, I know for sure that the aluminum deodorants stain my shirts and the non-aluminum deodorants dont.
posted by twblalock at 2:26 PM on May 31, 2011


I don't have a source at the moment, but I have heard multiple times that the study that purported to show a link between Alzheimer's & aluminium-based antiperspirants was flawed (the aluminium the found in the brain tissue was in fact due to the staining process, as I recall).

I remember hearing the same thing. Although the excuse I heard was that any aluminum found in the brains was a symptom of the plaque mechanism, not a cause of it.

I still don't cook on aluminum though, just in case. Mostly because when you boil water in an aluminum pot, the water turns white-ish.
posted by gjc at 2:30 PM on May 31, 2011


No.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:44 PM on May 31, 2011


This page from the UK Alzheimer's Society discusses the lack of a convincing causal relationship between aluminum and Alzheimer's, with citations of original research papers.

This page from the US National Cancer Institute summarizes studies (including papers cited above) of aluminum antiperspirant usage and breast cancer, showing no conclusive linkage.

tl;dr = No.
posted by Quietgal at 6:50 PM on May 31, 2011


Snopes on the Breast Cancer link and on aluminum more generally. The second page has a link to an article about the Alzheimer's claim from Scientific American.
posted by Coaticass at 11:32 PM on May 31, 2011


No, but good luck convincing anyone.
posted by chairface at 2:01 PM on June 1, 2011


For laughs: There's a belief held by some on reddit/r/trees that you should never smoke out of aluminum. Somehow trace levels of aluminum oxide are more dangerous for you than carcinogenic tar and poisonous carbon monoxide. It's face-palming stupid and you can't defeat it easily.
posted by chairface at 2:04 PM on June 1, 2011


« Older Fashion/fabric/color/clothes/s...   |  Is it possible to turn a hook-... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.