Is deodorant dangerous?

We asked the medical experts about hyped-up health trends to help you separate myth from miracle.

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WOMAN WITH ARMS OUTSTRETCHED
Photo by Getty Images

The claim

If deodorant safety has you working up a sweat, you’re not alone. Commercial deodorants are the beauty villain of the moment.

The thinking: our armpits cover our axillary lymph nodes and commercial deodorants contain controversial chemicals such as aluminum, which leads some in the natural health community to connect deodorant to breast cancer. To top it off, both Cameron Diaz and Julia Roberts have recently come out against deodorant, claiming that it’s bad for our health. Natural odour-taming alternatives (like crystal deodorants, which use mineral salts instead of aluminum to combat sweat, or DIY “pit paste” made from coconut oil) are flooding the market.

But is it true?

“There’s a concern that deodorants might contribute to breast cancer, but there are no studies that confirm that,” says Dr. Esther Konigsberg, medical director for Integrative Medicine Consultants in Toronto.

A large epidemiological study of breast cancer rates, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2002, found no link between use of antiperspirant or deodorant and risk of breast cancer. “Still, it’s fine to be precautionary and look at the ingredients in your deodorant,” says Dr. Konigsberg. She suggests referencing the ingredients against the Environmental Working Group cosmetic database paying particular attention to hormone disruptors. “I personally use a crystal deodorant,” she says.

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