Antiperspirants cause Alzheimer’s desease?

Despite circulating rumours:
There is NO evidence that antiperspirants
could cause Alzheimer’s disease!

It is a circular myth that resurfaces and alarms hyperhidrosis sufferers and sweaters perpetually since almost 5 decades. „Can the aluminum salts in antiperspirants lead to Alzheimer’s disease?“ This or similar questions are frequently asked on internet boards and many self-proclaimed „experts“ give questionable answers. Time to get answers from real experts in the field:

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease (progressive breakdown of mental abilities and degeneration of cerebral structures) has no known single cause. The rumour that aluminum may cause Alzheimer’s can be linked back to a study done in the 1960s which found abnormally high concentrations of aluminum in the brains of some victims of Alzheimer’s disease. These victims eventually drank tap water which was contaminated with high doses of aluminium, caused by an industrial accident nearby. However, „After several decades of research,“ reports the Alzheimer’s Association, „scientists have been unable to replicate the original 1960s studies showing aluminum deposits in a brain affected by Alzheimer’s.“

Scientists also said, that the tap water known from the infamous pollution study contained an extraordinary high and dangerous dose. Of course, aluminium can be – like all metallic elements – toxic, when the bodily absorption exceeds certain limits. But these limits (see below) will never be exceeded just by using topical antiperspirants, as these do not sink into the skin, unless the skin is cutted and wounded (for example after shaving). Therefore, antiperspirants are not able to enter the blood circuit or the lymphatics which are located below the stratum basale. Apart from that, antiperspirants do not emit enough aluminium to bring extraordinary high doses (see below) onto the skin.

skin model by

fig. above | Model of the human skin: The stratum basale is a natural barrier which rejects invasive elements of all kinds. Fluids like antiperspirants cannot enter the dermis beneath.

Tolerable aluminium limits:

According to safety publications by the FBA or the German BfR (transl. Bureau of Risk Management/Evaluation) the tolerable limit of bodily aluminium (Al) absorption is 60 mg person/per week or daily 8,6 mg per capita.

Examples of possible absorptions …

  • by using antiperspirants = max. 7 µg Al per day (micrograms)

and for comparison …

  • by using antacids = max. 5000 mg Al per day
  • by taking kidney dialysis medications = max. 1000 mg Al per day
  • by eating canned tomatoes or tomato soup = max. 64,8 mg Al per kg
  • by eating canned rhubarb = max. 41,8 mg Al per kg
  • by eating potatoes = max. 26 mg Al per kg
  • by eating canned pickles, kimchee or sauerkraut = max. 16,4 mg Al per kg
  • by using pots and pans made from aluminium alloys = max. 3,5 mg Al per day
  • by drinking regular tap water = max. 0,4 mg Al per day
  • by breathing = max. 0,04 mg Al per day

As this comparison indicates, it is not possible to exceed the given limits by using antiperspirants. Many other everyday products show much higher emissions of aluminium. Especially when foods are stored in aluminium (alloy) packaging or the foods get prepared by using aluminium items (foil, pots, pans), the absorption is very high. The maximum doses are emitted when such food is paired with acids, for example Mediterranean fish with lemons and herbs, baked in aluminium foil. Curiously enough, noone would claim that such delicious recipes could cause Alzheimer’s …

After all, it is all just a question of the dose and how often several products are consumed.

Quotes and researchs:
What do expert’s say?

In a letter (published in 2006 by USA Today), the Alzheimer’s Association goes on to state: „The link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease has never been conclusively proven […] The research community is generally convinced that aluminum is not a key risk factor in developing Alzheimer’s disease. Public health bodies sharing this conviction include the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Health Canada.“

Drs. William Pendlebury and Paul Solomon, co-directors of the Memory Disorders Clinic of the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, say, „At present, aluminum does not appear to play a major [causative] role in Alzheimer’s disease, and there is no reason to tell people to avoid minor aluminum exposures (antiperspirants, antacids, aluminum cooking utensils).

The International Hyperhidrosis Society says, concluding, „The rumors may continue to fly linking Alzheimer’s and antiperspirants. But we hope that rather than spending time worrying and wondering about a connection that has not been proven by any scientific study, you’ll consider incorporating some of the controllable lifestyle changes […] into your routine and decreasing your risk of Alzheimer’s by doing so.“

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