Over the last few years, my sister-in-law has tried time and time again to woo her 16-year-old son into using natural deodorant. He’s a solid, active teen who plays rugby and football. In other words, the potential for stench is pretty high. He tried three different kinds but didn’t find them effective so he chose a popular antiperspirant.
Now, she says, “he looks at me like I’m a crazy person if I bring up the natural ones!”
Like some other parents, my sister-in-law worried about the potential health risks of ingredients found in antiperspirants.
A recent study out of the University of Geneva found aluminium salts in antiperspirants and deodorants can trigger the growth of breast cancer-causing tumours.
The Canadian Cancer Society disputes the claim, pointing to other research. It says “a study published in the Journal of National Cancer Institute in October 2002 found that breast cancer risk did not increase with the use of antiperspirant or deodorant, the use of a product right after removing underarm hair with a razor or the use of products within one hour after shaving.”
Dr. Beth Cummings is a pediatric endocrinologist at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax. She says choosing a natural product over a popular antiperspirant is a personal decision, but for young children (who can reach puberty as early as eight or nine years old), she recommends “good hygiene” as the first line of defence.
“Little boys particularly often forget about soap and they have to be encouraged and supervised a bit and their hygiene,” Cummings said.
“After that, we have choices between deodorant and antiperspirant.”
Deodorant masks or covers up the smell of sweat and oil secretion. Antiperspirant temporarily stops the sweat.
“I think that the bottom line is that (antiperspirant) is probably quite safe,” Cummings said. “The kids need something so that they are not teased and probably the teacher in the classroom would appreciate it!”
– with files from Marilisa Racco
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