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Aluminum buildup from antisperspirants

IHN logo There is a risk of aluminum buildup from the use of antiperspirants. Aluminum is known to impact upon mammalian physiology and function in many ways as shown in clinical studies and animal models of aluminum toxicity. A chemistry expert from Keele University, with a particular interest in the impact of aluminum on human and animal health, has written an editorial on the use of aluminum salts in antiperspirant products. He explains that aluminum salts are the major constituents of many widely used antiperspirant products. The intention is that they block sweat ducts, either physically or through chemical inhibition. The author’s concern is over possible uptake through the skin, leading to systemic accumulation. He notes that a marker of aluminum has been found in urine following topical application, and cites a case report of a patient whose high plasma aluminum level (of 4uM) dropped sharply (to normal, 0.1-0.3 uM) when she ceased using antiperspirant[1]. Certain individuals may be more sensitized to aluminum, he suggests, absorbing or retaining higher amounts, possibly due to aging or differences in skin structure.

He expresses his surprise that an everyday product could lead to higher plasma aluminum levels than those found in patients on aluminum hydroxide therapy. No cognitive effects were seen in the patient, contrary to previous findings showing disorders from 0.4uM and above. However, the patient did report bone pain, which eased following cessation of antiperspirant use. Fatigue symptoms also improved, but more slowly. The author feels that we are complacent over aluminum risks from antiperspirants, and encourages further work in the area covering the physical, chemical and biological processes which determine its accumulation, metabolism and excretion. He specifically mentions the possibility that aluminum is a contributory factor in the etiology of Crohn’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Aside from antiperspirants, aluminum is also found in drinking water, processed cheese, baking powder, antacids, buffered aspirin, certain antidiarrheal preparations and foods cooked in aluminum pots. Studies also suggest that aluminum cans and aluminum-coated wax containers can transfer aluminum to their contents.
Exley, C. Aluminum in antiperspirants: more than just skin deep. American Journal of Medicine, Vol. 117, December 2004, pp969-970
[1] Guillard, O et al. Hyperaluminemia in a woman using an aluminum-containing antiperspirant for 4 years. American Journal of Medicine, Vol. 117, December 2004, pp956-959

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