You may have heard a rumor that has made the rounds: the aluminum in deodorants and antiperspirants can cause breast cancer.
That specific claim has been debunked by medical studies, as the National Cancer Institute shares.
However, aluminum may potentially be detrimental in other ways. As Penn Medicine reports, a build-up of aluminum in your body can bring on certain bone diseases and dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease can also be a risk when using products with aluminum, according to 2016 research.
Natural deodorants typically contain no artificial ingredients and use plant-based ingredients such as arrowroot and moisture-absorbing ingredients such as cornstarch and baking soda
So, does it make sense to ditch the deodorant with aluminum listed as an ingredient? And to forgo deodorants with other not-so-great add-ins, like parabens and talc? Is there an actual danger when using these products? How great is the risk?
Read on to find out if natural deodorant is a healthier choice, based on advice from two dermatologists.
What is natural deodorant, exactly?
“Natural deodorant primarily means it is aluminum-free,” says Dr. Jeannette Graf, MD, board-certified dermatologist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, adding that they “typically contain no artificial ingredients and use plant-based ingredients such as arrowroot and moisture-absorbing ingredients such as cornstarch and baking soda.”
How does natural deodorant differ from traditional deodorant?
“Natural deodorants tend to use more herbs or plant-based ingredients to decrease bacterial growth or create a nicer fragrance,” says Amy Kassouf, MD, FAAD, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic.
She says that ingredients like baking soda can change the pH of the skin, which can help stop bacteria.
Just keep in mind that like any deodorant on the market, natural deodorants don’t act as antiperspirants or block sweat glands, as Dr. Graf points out.
Are natural deodorants really better for you?
Dr. Kassouf says that at the end of the day, the difference isn’t that significant, and the choice to go natural or non-natural is a personal one.
While aluminum-related health concerns continue to be studied, are these concerns big enough to make you stop using your usual, trusty deodorant?
At the very least, switching to natural deodorant can help with allergic reactions and rashes, if that’s something that you’re prone to with traditional deodorants.
Dr. Graf explains, “Natural deodorants most likely aren’t going to be game changers for your health, but have less of a chance to cause allergy and irritation.”
Dr. Kassouf adds that many people get irritated by aluminum-based products, especially the clinical strength ones.
So, what are the potential benefits of using natural deodorant, both in the moment and in the future?
“The short- and long-term benefits of using a natural deodorant is a much lower chance of allergic contact and irritant dermatitis,” Dr. Graf says. “If you want to err on the side of caution, you can use natural deodorants to avoid allergic contact and irritant dermatitis.”
Still worried about what aluminum might do to your health if you’re not sure about switching? “There have been some theories about aluminum exposure, but most are drawn from much higher systemic exposures and have not been well-proven with topical exposure,” Dr. Kassouf says.
In other words, experts have mainly been studying large quantities of aluminum and how it affects a person’s whole system; there hasn’t been a lot of evidence that topically applying it to your underarms is a risky endeavor.
This article first appeared in Yahoo Life!