Lake Oconee Breeze

Healthy Living

January 11, 2013

Deodorants and health concerns

EATONTON — Of all the products we read labels on, deodorants and antiperspirants rarely make the list. However, there are some considerations to take into account when choosing a deodorant/antiperspirant formula, and learning to read the labels can yield long-term health benefits.

The active ingredients in most antiperspirant/deodorant formulas are aluminum-based compounds. These compounds create a “plug” that blocks the sweat ducts and stops the flow of sweat to the skin. These compounds, called xenoestrogens, are absorbed into the skin and mimic estrogen in our bodies. Xenoestrogens act as “estrogen disruptors.” The body is unable to break down xenoestrogens, so they persist in our bodies for decades and have a cumulative and synergistic effect on our tissues. Additionally, some preservatives called parabens, also found in the deodorant, can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. (Parabens are usually easy to identify by name, such as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben or benzylparaben.)

We are exposed to xenoestrogens and parabens through pesticides, plastics, petrochemicals, detergents, cosmetics, solvents, chlorinated water, fire retardants, lice shampoos and other sources including deodorant/antiperspirant. We also ingest xenoestrogens when we eat dairy, meat, poultry and fish that may contain natural estrogen and (if not organic), may have been injected or fed estrogen to increase fat or milk production.

When we are exposed to too many xenoestrogens, we can experience estrogen-dominant conditions, such as:

•Weight gain secondary to insulin resistance

•Fibrocystic breast disease

•Certain types of PMS

•Migraines

•Menstrual disturbances — irregular and heavy bleeding

•Endometriosis, the uterine tissue disorder

•Uterine fibroids

•Ovarian cysts

•Breast cancer

Perhaps most concerning, however, is the fact that estrogen and estrogen-like compounds have been shown to promote the growth of breast cancer cells. The highest incidence of breast cancer is found in the upper left quadrant of the breast. That quadrant is directly linked and nearest to the lymph nodes in the axillary, or armpit area, where deodorant is applied. The California Cancer Registry says that 33.7 percent of cancerous tumors are found in the upper left quadrant of the breast, while the occurrence of tumors in other areas of the breast ranges from 7.1 percent to 5.4 percent. According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, 40 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer also have cancer in the axillary lymph nodes.

Given that deodorant use is long term and the area of application is closely linked to the breast, I recommend people choose an aluminum- and paraben-free deodorant/antiperspirant formula. Tom’s of Maine, Jason’s and Arm & Hammer all have formulas that fit these criteria. My personal favorite is Arm & Hammer Essentials, which is reasonably priced and easy to find at most drug stores.

Switching your deodorant/antiperspirant formula is a simple change that can yield benefits for years to come by limiting your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. In this case, an ounce of prevention could be worth more than a pound of cure.

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