Sunday, October 30, 2011

Is your antiperspirant dangerous?

 Ok, so I told you before that I recently stopped using antiperspirant and I'm sure you were all scratching your heads and wondering how smelly I am now. And possibly you were also wondering WHY??? I'm sure you all remember hearing a while back (I remember first hearing this about ten years ago or so) that the aluminum in antiperspirants is bad for your health. Back then I think it was mainly the alzheimer connection? Well, I can't point to any peer reviewed studies that show definitively that antiperspirant is causing disease, but I can tell you that aluminum is no bueno.

Like I said, I'd heard of this idea before, but I more or less ignored it because who wants to have stinky pits?  And also: no scientific evidence that antiperspirant in particular is bad.  But since Avery was born I have been taking a harder look at our lifestyle and making some changes.  I mean, I started moving towards a more "natural" lifestyle after I had cancer in 2006, but now that we have Avery, it's even more impetus to examine our exposure to harmful substances and try to reduce where it makes sense to do so.

What really got me thinking about this is researching vaccines for Avery.  (Another topic I fully intend to talk about at some point, I promise!)  Now, by this point in time, *most* of the mercury has been removed from *most* of the childhood vaccines.***  But many still contain aluminum, which can be just as harmful to humans.  I predict aluminum will be the next target of outspoken safe vaccine advocates.  Right now, research has yet to explore fully the dangers of aluminum in vaccines.  But the CDC itself says that exposure to high levels of aluminum may result in respiratory and neurological problems. So, yes, the aluminum in vaccines concerns me.  And I started wondering, where else are we being exposed to aluminum?

First of all, aluminum is ubiquitous in our environment.  It's in water, food, and even the air we breathe.  So you're never ever going to reach zero exposure.  But if I see areas where I can reduce exposure without too much difficulty, to me, it makes sense to do it.  For instance, sometimes pots and pans are made of aluminum.  And when you heat stuff, especially with acidity involved (like tomato, for example), toxins can leach into food.  So no aluminum in the kitchen.  Obviously, don't drink out of aluminum cans.  Avoid antacids, which are high in aluminum.  Use aluminum-free baking powder.  Ok, so this is all pretty easy to do.  But giving up my antiperspirant???  I didn't know if I could!

But if you think about it, you shave your armpits, which causes microtraumas or even outright nicks where your skin is open, and then slather on antiperspirant.  Your skin absorbs stuff more readily than even ingesting it, and it bypasses the liver and goes straight into your bloodstream.  Plus more of it is probably getting in there because of the open skin.  I don't know; I'm not a doctor (duh), but this sounds, like I said, no bueno

Even aside from the aluminum thing, antiperspirants work by inhibiting your sweat glands from working.  Sweat is a major pathway for elimination of toxins from the body, so it's also short-circuiting a process of detoxification.

It took me a while to fully make the switch once I decided antiperspirants were bad news.  For a while I more or less decided I would risk the potential health hazards in order to prevent body odor.  See, it's the aluminum that has the antiperspirant effect. You can buy deodorants without aluminum, but they don't prevent you from sweating. I tried a bunch of "natural" deodorants but none of them worked one lick.  I would be stinking within 30 minutes of taking a shower.  Hey, it's hot and humid here!  I searched high and low for a women's deodorant that was NOT also an antiperspirant.  Apparently they don't make one!  I considered using a men's deodorant, since there are several men's products that are deodorant-only.  But they all had food coloring and other "bad" stuff that I'm trying to avoid, so, um, choose your poison right?  Finally I discovered that Arm & Hammer makes a deodorant without antiperspirant.  And it actually works! 

Don't get me wrong, it's definitely not the same.  If I sweat a lot, or I'm outside all afternoon, I do start to stink more than with antiperspirant.  But For me, it's a fair trade to get rid of a product I was using on a daily basis that I really feel is not good for my health.  Or Avery's, since aluminum IS excreted in breastmilk.

So that's it in a nutshell.  I'm curious to hear your thoughts.  Do you use antiperspirant?  Have you tried any natural deodorants?  Leave me a comment! *** P.S. on the mercury in vaccines thing: most vaccine manufacturers have worked to remove mercury from childhood vaccines, but trace amounts do remain. And some vaccines given to children DO still contain mercury, the biggest one being the flu shot, which, if you get one every year is kind of a lot of mercury exposure. But like I said, more on this subject later!

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