Is Deodorant Bad for You? 5 Myths About Antiperspirant and Deodorant

iStock
iStock

Everybody has at least one Facebook friend who posts about the dangers lurking in everything we eat, drink, and put on our bodies. They may have even shared articles claiming that deodorants and antiperspirants cause breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, or kidney failure. But is there really scientific evidence to back these claims up?

Nope.

Deodorant and antiperspirant, while often combined into a single floral- or pine-scented stick, are two different compounds that work quite differently. Deodorant fights underarm stank by killing or blocking odiferous underarm bacteria. Antiperspirants keep your armpits dry by sealing off sweat glands with aluminum salts and other compounds.

Neither product is good for your body. (Your social life is another story.) But that doesn’t mean they’re hurting you.

MYTH 1: ALUMINUM PARTICLES IN ANTIPERSPIRANT CAUSE CANCER.

A handful of widely circulated articles have raised concerns about using aluminum to stop sweat from escaping. Many breast cancers originate at the top of the breast, near the armpit. Some scientists famously argued that antiperspirant chemicals were leaching into the skin there, damaging DNA and leading to tumor growth.

The Facts: As with so many studies of possible carcinogens, the results are mixed and inconclusive. Some say antiperspirants are harmful. Many others say they do not cause cancer. "There is no convincing evidence that antiperspirant or deodorant use increases cancer risk," Ted S. Gansler of the American Cancer Society told WebMD.

THE MYTH 2: PARABENS IN ANTIPERSPIRANT CAUSE CANCER.

Parabens have been used as a preservative in cosmetics, foods, and toiletries for decades. But recently, concerns about their safety have been making headlines.

The Facts: While parabens have been found in breast tumor tissue, there is no evidence that the parabens caused the cancer. But, more importantly, almost all of the antiperspirants currently on the market are paraben-free.

THE MYTH 3: ANTIPERSPIRANT CAUSES KIDNEY DISEASE.

This worry likely stems from the warning label the FDA requires all antiperspirants to carry: "Ask a doctor before use if you have kidney disease."

The Facts: The FDA requires the warning label because, historically, aluminum in large doses is harmful for people whose kidneys are functioning at 30 percent or less. Many years ago, people on dialysis were given a drug containing aluminum. Their kidneys couldn’t process the high doses and the metal accumulated in their bodies, eventually leading to an increased risk for dementia.

But these patients were swallowing a lot of aluminum. Daily use of antiperspirant involves a far lower dose, and very little of that is absorbed through the skin, let alone reaches your kidneys. "Unless you eat your stick or spray it into your mouth, your body can't absorb that much aluminum," nephrologist Leslie Spry of the National Kidney Foundation said on his organization's website.

MYTH 4: DEODORANT DESTROYS YOUR MICROBIOME.

Your personal microbial ecosystem is a vital part of keeping you healthy. Some people fear that toiletries like deodorant will throw off the balance of the ecosystem and make us sick.

The Facts: Deodorant (and especially antiperspirant) does affect your body’s bacteria. That’s literally why you buy it. But there’s no evidence that this is a problem. Trust us: We love bacteria. If we hear otherwise, we’ll let you know.

MYTH 5: ALUMINUM IN ANTIPERSPIRANT CAUSES ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE.

Fifty years ago, scientists raised alarms about a possible link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease. People began to worry about cooking with aluminum foil, using aluminum pots and pans, and applying aluminum particles to their skin in antiperspirant.

The Facts: Decades of subsequent experiments have yielded no conclusive evidence that using antiperspirant can cause Alzheimer’s. As we've already discussed, aluminum can be dangerous in high doses—but to get a high enough dose you’d have to eat it. A lot of it. While scientists today continue to debate the role aluminum may or may not play in causing Alzheimer's, the Alzheimer's Association goes so far as to say, "Almost all scientists today focus on other areas of [Alzheimer's] research, and few experts believe that everyday sources of aluminum pose any threat."

Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture

Wayfair/Weber
Wayfair/Weber

This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair
Brisbane/Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.
Dyna-Glo/Wayfair

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.
GoSports

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

The Worst Drivers In America Live in These 15 States

Life of Pix, Pexels
Life of Pix, Pexels

No matter how many times you've been cut off on a road trip, anecdotal evidence alone can't prove that a certain state's drivers are worse than yours. For that, you need statistics. The personal finance company SmartAsset compiled data related to bad driving behaviors to create this list of the 15 states in America with the worst drivers.

This ranking is based on four metrics: the number of fatalities per 100 million miles driven in each state, DUI arrests per 1000 drivers, the percentage of uninsured drivers, and how often residents Google the terms “speeding ticket” or “traffic ticket.”

Mississippi ranks worst overall, with the second-highest number of fatalities and the second lowest percentage of insured drivers. This marked the third year in a row Mississippi claimed the bottom slot in SmartAsset's worst driver's list. This year, it's followed by Nevada in second place and Tennessee in third. You can check out the worst offenders in the country in the list below.

Some motorists may be more interested in avoiding the cities plagued by bad driving than the states. These two categories don't always align: Oregon, which didn't crack the top 10 states with the worst drivers, is home to Portland, the city with the worst drivers according to one quote comparison site. After reading through the list of states, compare it to the cities with the worst drivers in America here.

  1. Mississippi
  1. Nevada
  1. Tennessee
  1. Florida
  1. California
  1. Arizona
  1. South Carolina (Tie)
  1. Texas (Tie)
  1. New Mexico
  1. Alaska
  1. Louisiana
  1. Alabama
  1. Oregon
  1. Arkansas
  1. Colorado