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What Are the Dangers of Aluminum Zirconium?

Many antiperspirants contain aluminum zirconium.
There is some concern that the aluminum in antiperspirants may be absorbed into the body.
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  • Originally Written By: S. Mithra
  • Revised By: A. Joseph
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 27 March 2014
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As of 2012, no medical or environmental study had proved that aluminum zirconium — a common ingredient in antiperspirant — increases the risk for any disease, including breast cancer or Alzheimer's disease. There are, however, many people who believe that the use of antiperspirants that contain aluminum zirconium is dangerous. Some studies into the potential dangers of aluminum zirconium have suggested there there might be some type of connection, but others have found no link, and there has been no evidence proving that aluminum zirconium has caused any disease. These studies are likely to continue, because further research is needed to confirm or refute the opinion of most medical experts and scientists that aluminum zirconium is not dangerous.

Use in Antiperspirants

Aluminum zirconium — or, more precisely, aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly — is used in antiperspirants because it has several qualities that reduce sweating. It is absorbed by the skin, where the ions of aluminum and zirconium cause the skin cells to swell. This pinches the sweat glands closed and keeps them from releasing perspiration. The compound also absorbs any perspiration that does occur.

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Theories

According to some people, aluminum zirconium blocks toxins from escaping through the armpits, causing them to accumulate in the lymph nodes near the breast. This is a nonscientific explanation, however, that often accompanies a promotion of an alternative kind of antiperspirant or deodorant. For some people, using an antiperspirant that doesn't contain this chemical might be beneficial because of skin allergies, but this has nothing to do with cancer or other potential dangers of aluminum zirconium.

Some people also believe that the dangers of aluminum zirconium include a link between certain aluminum compounds and Alzheimer's disease. Research, however, has not found any positive association between the disease and antiperspirants or other everyday sources of aluminum. Medical experts do not know what causes Alzheimer's and have explored many avenues of research. Some studies have found aluminum to be present in brains of people who have suffered from neurological damage, such as that associated with Alzheimer's disease, but many experts believe this link to be merely secondary and not causal.

No Cause for Alarm

Most aluminum is ingested by humans through water and processed food, not through the skin from hygiene products. Many health associations, including those that focus on cancer and Alzheimer's disease, have worked to lay to rest the rumors about the dangers of aluminum zirconium or the use of antiperspirants. Until scientific research proves that there is a link between the use of antiperspirants that contain aluminum zirconium and any diseases, there is no cause for someone to be concerned.

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Discuss this Article

anon935712
Post 48

The CDC toxicity report on Aluminum was very contradictory, even within the same paragraph. It stated that aluminum causes noticeable neurological damage and then concluded that the tests were inconclusive. I really don't think the article should state, with such certainty, that aluminum zirconium does not cause any diseases.

The author found a loophole because the studies were done on other types of aluminum chemical forms. The truth is that no studies of aluminum zirconium have been done because only companies that produce the deodorant have the MSDS for the whole product and not for the chemical itself. This is very misleading.

As a chemist, I would not use a product that has a parent chemical that causes neurological damage.

anon344415
Post 45

Think about it: putting aluminum into your body, absorbed into the skin. I'm not 100 percent on it myself, but I realized my deodorant by Degree and Axe have that compound in them. I'm not using it anymore.

anon338528
Post 43

The body sweats to regulate body temperature and eliminate toxins, so do not stop it. Just eat fruit and vegetables, no meat, dairy, eggs or smelly vegetables such as garlic and onion and you will not smell, well perhaps a bit if you leave it too long. The olfactory system detects pleasure or pain (papaya or poo).

anon331741
Post 42

I don't buy any of this. You would think that there are scientists working hard every day on something of this matter, and still no proven connection, and all you guys informing us of your health problems like it's a proven fact it's the cause or connected. I say, the day they can prove it, I will stop.

anon299232
Post 40

Antiperspirants do not work by causing the cells around pores to swell. This theory of action has never been proven. All the evidence has pointed to the gel plug theory being correct. They have actually found gel plugs of colloidal aluminium in eccrine pores. The gel plugs cause a physical superficial blockage that stops sweat from being expressed.(Strassburger and Coble; J. Soc. Cosmet. Chem. 1987).

Aluminium is the third most abundant element in the Earth's crust. It is in everything you eat and drink. The filters used to soften water are composed of Aluminium hydroxide, as are the dialysis filters used by people with liver and kidney failure. Aluminium is not used in any biological processes in the human body.

Irritation from antiperspirants is mostly caused by using products that either contain alcohol or have a low pH. Aluminium based antiperspirant actives are slightly acidic in nature and therefore, at high dosage levels can cause irritation. This irritation is not directly caused by the aluminium but the low pH producing acidic conditions on the skin.

People with very sensitive skin may find the reduction in pH irritating. Irritation can be avoided by using milder formulations. Aluminium zirconium compounds are found mainly in high efficacy products and are not required by everyone or every skin type to reduce sweating.

anon296829
Post 39

My cousin uses a lot of deodorant because he is a sweaty guy. He recently had to have the lymph nodes under his arm pits removed, probably due to all the deodorant he uses. I don't use the stuff because it is toxic.

In my humble opinion. it's designed by the "elites" for all the gullible sheep to use. Do you think the super rich use deodorant bought at Wal-Mart? I seriously doubt it. They use all natural stuff or nothing at all. Why block your power pheromones? I'm a human being. Smell my pits.

anon268809
Post 38

My kidney and bladder started hurting after a few weeks pf using antiperspirant with aluminum zirconium. I've never had pain like this. I'm going to my doctor tomorrow.

anon220543
Post 35

I hear if your a heavy meat eater it makes you stink. Also I hear if you eat mainly a fruit and vegetable diet, you won't be as stinky as a meat eater.

and as far as clearing up your stink goes, if you juice your own fruits and veggies and add parsley that should clear up the stink.

anon197665
Post 34

I am not a chemist but do like to read. Aluminum is poisonous to humans.

Fluoride is as well, as are many other ingredients found in our foods, health and beauty aides and medicines.

Educate yourselves. Internet and other hardbook resources are available. Corn starch is a natural odor blocker.

anon152029
Post 32

I used the deodorant a few years ago and under my armpit hurt a lot, more on the right than the left. I started using it again in 2010 and I find the same reaction! I will quit using it!

anon142434
Post 31

Been suffering for six months with terrible under arm pain when moving my arm in any direction. Had several tests, with result of severe tissue damage due from excess aluminum from deodorant. Quit using anti-perspirant two weeks ago, and arm pain is almost gone! Go figure!

anon136145
Post 30

to post #20: Mixing pure vanilla extract with the baking soda adds a pleasant smell and also makes it more spreadable to the armpit! I use it and I sweat a lot. The moisture is still there, but the bad odor is gone.

anon108023
Post 28

#20 said it perfectly! It's all a system and I refuse to be handled among their population control! Please educate yourselves and avoid their crap!

anon100483
Post 27

@Anon99650: The first two-thirds of your answer - although interesting - had nothing to do with my question. I would like to also point out that this is well known, at least in America, where it is stated on the antiperspirant packaging that these products should not be used if you suffer from liver or kidney failure. The last one-third, however, is simply bad science, Cl+?! I think you mean Cl-.

@davidinnotts: Aluminium compounds prevent sweating by entering the pores and becoming chemically bound to keratin proteins in the pores. The large crystal structure then blocks the pores. These plugs are not removed until the skin naturally sheds seven days later. (Strassburger and Coble; J. Soc. Cosmet. Chem, 1987).

You also state that it is a fact that toxic shock has been recorded in people that use aluminium based antiperspirants. This is an unsupported claim and needs a reference. If you are referring to people with liver and kidney failure then I refer you to what I said to Anon99650.

As a third point, Aluminium 3+ is not metallic aluminium metal. Metallic bonds are different than ionic bonds.

anon99650
Post 26

@anon97556: According to clinical pharmacology, aluminum may reach toxic levels with prolonged administration in patients with renal impairment. Premature neonates are at particular risk for aluminum toxicity following administration of aluminum-containing injectables.

Since premature neonates have immature kidneys, they may require large amounts of calcium and phosphate solutions, which contain aluminum. Research indicates that patients with renal impairment, who receive parenteral aluminum at rates greater than 4—5 mcg/kg/day, may develop aluminum toxicity (CNS and bone toxicity). Tissue loading may occur at lower administration rates.

In response to negative ions entering cells: cells contain specific Cl+ channels which allow them in, particularly ones that may reach an action potential. That said, I don't think it would be impossible for Al 3+ to enter the cell by other means, however certainly not in as large a quantity as Cl ions. This, I believe is "common knowledge" as it can be found in any basic physiology website or textbook. I am too lazy to seek out better than tertiary references, sorry.

davidinnotts
Post 25

@anon 97576. I don't remember doing any name calling! You'll find comment 15 gives you the gist of the answer. I researched this a few years ago - I'm a skeptic, like you. I was satisfied by what I found, but I can't recall the material I found then. I expect that the net will have pretty well the same now, plus some more.

It comes down essentially to the compound's action - antiperspirants are supposed to work mainly by entering pores and blocking them by causing some swelling. This enables them to enter the bloodstream more easily. It might well be, too, that alum - if it does absorb - remains 'intact' in the body, not releasing metallic aluminum metal.

The fact remains that there are many documented cases of toxic shock from antiperspirant overuse, and none from bathing in alum solutions, once recommended as an antibacterial treatment. The recommendations you'll see in an online trawl are based on these documented observations.

anon97556
Post 24

How exactly can aluminium in aluminium and aluminium zirconium chlorohydrates and aluminium in alum be different? The Chemical formula of potassium alum is KAl(SO4)2.12H2O. As this is a neutral molecule, the aluminium is still in the 3+ state.

Now I only have a lowly chemistry degree, but if this compound dissolves fully in water, there will surely be free Al3+ ions floating around to be absorbed. And, anyway, how does a negative charge preclude movement across a cell membrane? Chloride ions do it, as do many other negative ions.

A reasoned response - without name calling - and citations of papers where you got your information from would be nice.

davidinnotts
Post 23

@anon 94787: Please excuse me saying that you have to be careful not to become gullible. You're saying that mega-corporations care for the little people so much that they will give up profitable lines if there is the slightest risk that they might be harmful.

Post 20 mentions some big companies that have been proven to put profits before people, even cheating to improve their income. What makes you think that they are the only ones?

Companies have a duty to their shareholders to maximize profits. If there is no definite proof that a product - alone - is causing a problem, then we can't successfully sue. In such a case, they'll keep selling until the case against them is unambiguous. And how hard is it to prove that it's your antiperspirant that's the sole cause of your troubles?

No, the reasons that you gave are why people buy the heavily advertised stuff. They work well, last longer and - in the short term - don't harm you (much) unless you overdose. Most people will always go for the quick fix and let the future look after itself. More fool them! --David.

anon94797
Post 22

What are you all thinking? Would people be selling all these antiperspirants with aluminum zirconium in them if they caused disease? Natural deodorants are harder to find and they don't last all day so why would people not sell too many natural deodorants if they are better for you to use? Think a little people!

anon86928
Post 21

I have used the kind of deodorants that you apply at night and they seal your pores for the next day for years as i sweat heavily.

I have recently been diagnosed as having sarcoidosis, which is a disease which has enlarged the lymph nodes near my lungs. i am otherwise very fit and healthy. I have just begun to think that the continued use of this type of deodorant may have caused this.

anon84409
Post 20

Here is a list of toxic substances that have been brought into the market/environment by big corporations, where we were initially told they are completely safe but have since learned that they are certainly not: tobacco, lead, mercury, fluoride, aspartame and MSG.

Here are 3 natural alternatives:

1. baking soda (all natural kind - rub the powder under your arms using a wet cloth/towel)

2. Magnesium oil - spray it

3. Lemon or lime halves (use it after you used all the juice inside).

anon78303
Post 19

Jungleman deodorant is the only one I've found that works and is all-natural and doesn't contain aluminum. Even if there aren't enough studies proving that it causes breast cancer or Alzheimer's, I'd still rather be safe than sorry. New information comes out constantly, many times too late.

davidinnotts
Post 18

Hi, 66482.

Wise guy! Deodorants without aluminum are easy to find. Remember that they won't be anti-perspirant, too. It's the anti-perspirants that do the poisoning.

They're the same stuff as the styptic pencils that shavers use to stop bleeding from cuts - alum. There are a lot of brands, but they're all essentially the same: either a pump spray or a solid crystal of alum. You just use a quick spray or wet the block and rub it on your skin. The blocks usually last for a few months.

anon66482
Post 17

I'm going to stop using this aluminum deodorant. Do they make any without aluminum? If so what's the brand and name? Thanks.

anon64742
Post 16

I think basically since aluminum can be found in the water we drink since aluminum applied to the body, when washed off, spreads to the water world, which can be ingested by sea animals and human alike.

davidinnotts
Post 15

char has got the real point. It's not so much cancer or kidneys for most people, but aluminum (aluminium to the rest of the world), while a vital nutrient in tiny quantities, is a poison in quite small amounts to both animals and plants (look up the acid rain mess, which was about just this).

Antiperspirants are supposed to work by both constricting and blocking your sweat glands. The aluminum salts used in antiperspirants (not deodorants) are absorbed into your body and broken down, releasing the aluminum.

The aluminum in deodorants (usually potassium or ammonium alum) lies on the skin in a thin layer and makes it alkaline. So bacteria don't grow and you don't get the offensive smells from their waste products. But nor is it absorbed, so you don't get poisoned.

For most people, the poisoning is mild - maybe no more than you'd get from being a coffee junkie or a drunk. But if you're particularly vulnerable to toxic shock (say, because of poor kidney or liver function) or if you spray a lot of antiperspirant on your skin, you could get poisoned.

The science behind this and the documented cases of poisoning are all on the web. Just do a search.

David.

anon52971
Post 14

is there any concrete evidence of this? breast cancer runs in my family, and i just bought a deodorant with aluminum zirconium in it. :O :/

anon39190
Post 12

Aluminium chlorohydrate vs aluminium zirconium. What are the difference between those two? Both are being used in antiperspirant right? -Dee

anon35229
Post 11

i have 18 yr old son with only 1 kidney. should he be using deodorant that contains aluminum?

mclivia
Post 8

I think the article is helpful, however; the comments seem disjointed and unrelated- does anyone have information that is founded in concrete research? the information on how aluminum zirconium may effect kidneys and/or the heart is interesting, but how and where did you find this info.? does anyone have info. on deodorants that are effective that do not contain potentially harmful components?

steve805
Post 7

Only antiperspirants contain aluminum.

anon24306
Post 6

Can aluminum zirconium give lupus like effects such as renal failure and high blood pressure?

Spencerpony
Post 5

Can using aluminum zirconium anti-perspirant have the side effect of dyshidrotic eczema on the hands?

anon3764
Post 4

Most branded organic deodorants claim to use natural mineral salts to prevent odor. Little do people know though that "natural" salts they use is potassium aluminum sulfate-and you guessed it, it still has aluminum in it. Aluminum zirconium, in most antiperspirants, is man made, has aluminum and is categorized as a "salt" too by the way. Funny how branding works and how "natural" is used to sell "safety" to people.

char
Post 3

What is with Aluminum and kidney failure? I have been told to stop using deodorants with aluminum in it but no one can actually say why.

So I guess since I have kidney failure and my blood is not being cleansed like it should. The aluminum is not being cleansed from my blood.

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