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Dangers of Aluminum


It still floors me every time when I walk in to a health foods store and, while they wouldn't dream of selling an aluminum-based anti-perspirant, they will sell several brands and forms of "crystal" deodorants: sprays lined up, crystal roll ons, the crystal in the pink tube, the crystal in the blue tube. These stores are supposed to be beacons of health, of wellness and yet they're selling the smallest, potentially most absorbable form of aluminum you can put on your skin, period. Ionic aluminum, the same form of aluminum found in the crystal deodorants and has been found to create oxidative stress on skin and breast tissue. Most people don't realize that they're slathering on aluminum when they use these crystals.  Manufacturers will say that it doesn't contain "harmful aluminums."  But is there such thing as a safe aluminum, or a beneficial aluminum?  No.  As I've outlined below, aluminum is aluminum.  It has no benefit or place in the human body, and only creates a state of toxicity within.

What is aluminum?

Aluminum is the world's most abundant metal in the earth's crust.  It is a versatile metal that is lightweight, relatively soft, and durable.  It is a fairly reactive element that combines with negatively charged ions or elements to form compounds such as aluminum oxide or aluminum sulfate.  

How does aluminum enter the body?

We're exposed to aluminum in many ways:

  • Trace amounts in drinking water
  • Baked goods that contain alum-containing baking powder
  • Foods with artificial colorants (aluminum lakes, example: yellow 5 aluminum lake)  
  • Cooking acidic foods in aluminum cookware (the acidity causes the aluminum to leach)  
  • Over-the-counter medicines such as Maylox and Mylanta
  • Vaccines
  • Topical products such as deodorants or anti-perspirants 

How does aluminum affect our health?

Unlike some other metals such as potassium, sodium, or magnesium, aluminum has no benefit or function in the body.

  • Aluminum creates oxidative stress on cells throughout the body, causing damage to DNA and aging on cells.  (Source)  
  • Aluminum-containing anti-perspirants keep the body from sweating and properly releasing hormones out of the body.  This is a suspected cause of breast and prostate cancer. (Source)
  • Aluminum accumulates in bone tissue, thus weakening it.  (Source) It is a suspected cause of osteoporosis.  
  • "Once absorbed, Al accumulates in bone, brain, liver and kidney, with bone as the major site for Al deposition in humans." (Source)
  • Aluminum robs the body of magnesium, calcium and iron, and accumulates in the brain.  "Trace aluminum levels cross the blood-brain barrier and progressively accumulate in large pyramidal neurons of the hippocampus, cortex, and other brain regions vulnerable in Alzheimer's disease. More aluminum enters the brain than leaves, resulting in a net increase in intraneuronal aluminum with advancing age. Aluminum is responsible for two main types of toxic damage in cells. As a pro-oxidant, aluminum causes oxidative damage both on its own and in synergy with iron. Aluminum also competes with, and substitutes for, essential metals-primarily Mg2+, iron and Ca2+ ions-in or on proteins and their co-factors." (Source)
  • Aluminum has been found to cause granulomas. (Source)
  • Aluminum is toxic to skin and creates oxidative stress (Source)
  • Aluminum is absorbed highly by abraided or irritated skin. (Source)
  • This study found that ionic aluminum created oxidative stress in breast tissue. (Source)

Reader Comments (54)

What about foil? Does it leach into only acidic food or should it be avoided altogether?

Wed, September 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersandi

Thank you for posting this information again. I informed someone not long ago that their crystal deodorant is really not safe to use on a daily basis and I think they are starting to realize it. I wish more people would do more independent research like you do and not accept so called "natural" products found in health food stores as being "healthy". Keeping it simple will always be the most natural.

Wed, September 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

What about aluminum water bottles? Are they safe? Better or worse than bpa-free plastic?

Wed, September 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJules

What about the forms of aluminum used in makeup such as Alumina, Aluminum Hydroxide or Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, are they all the same? Or flour containing Sodium aluminum phosphate, should I just avoid anything containing word Alum? :(

Wed, September 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNika

I gave up deodorants and anti-perspirants decades ago and never looked back. Smell? -- wash. Truthfully, the more deodorants that people use the funkier they may whiff. Lots of foods, medicines and stress affect odor. Madison Avenue has everyone snookered.

Wed, September 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMinka

In some of what I've read about aluminum, authors have indicated that aluminum ingested (from cookware, food, water, etc) is less harmful than aluminum injected (e.g., vaccines) or absorbed (e.g., deodorant) because most of the alumninum you eat passes through the digestive system and exits your body whereas all of the aluminum injected or absorbed through your skin accumulates. Do you believe this to be a true distinction?

Wed, September 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermkgmama

Thank you Stephanie for this great information! I too wish that the "health" food stores would become more healthy. Educating the consumer is powerful to create change!

Wed, September 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDarla

@Sandi: Regarding aluminum foil, it really depends on the food that you're preparing. If you're cooking acidic foods like tomatoes, lemon, anything with vinegar, etc, you will get some leaching in to your food. The amounts are small, but aluminum is also bioaccumulative. So, it's not about that one time that you used it, but the accumulative effect of doing it numerous times over your lifetime With non-acidic foods of course there will be less leaching, as there's no mechanism whereby the aluminum would get in your food (unless it stuck to your food and then you ate a piece.) I personally only use aluminum foil to cover bowls and such, where the foil isn't touching the food directly.

Wed, September 12, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

@Jules--regarding aluminum water bottles--a lot of them do have coatings that would keep the aluminum from leaching. That would be a question that you would want to ask the manufacturer. I would choose stainless steel over aluminum or BPA free plastic, although there are some good BPA free plastic bottles out there as well.

Wed, September 12, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

@Nika--pretty much. These are all forms of aluminum. Of course, with an eyeshadow you're not really absorbing much aluminum, but it is daily exposure that accumulates over time.

Wed, September 12, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

@Mkgmama--It sounds like a solid theory, although I have not found any studies to back up the assertion.

Wed, September 12, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

I read that even aluminum-free baking soda contains naturally trace amounts of it, which are naturally occurrring. My concern is that even deodorants with aluminum-free baking soda could have aluminum traces. What do you think about this?

Wed, September 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAna

Baking soda wouldn't have any higher trace levels of aluminum than anything else would. There can be trace levels of aluminum in foods, in water, salt. In everything. Just like lead or other heavy metals. There is a particular level that you're exposed to just by being in this world. It is, after all, one of the most abundant metals in the earth's crust. Trace levels, however, wouldn't be a concern. It's concentrated doses in drugs, everyday low doses from cookware, or applying aluminum salts to your skin daily that it becomes problematic. Like I said, baking soda wouldn't have any reason to have higher trace levels than anything else naturally would.

Thu, September 13, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

Hi Stephanie,
It is really great what you are doing here. But have you investigated Geoengineering, and the fact that we are BREATHING, millions of nano-particles of aluminum every day, regardless of where we live? Please take a few minutes to check this out. You will be glad that you did. The aluminum problem is far worse that most people are aware of! Check out the documents and the patents pages. Also, the new film "Why in the world are they Spraying?" - is available to view for free on Utube:
Thank you for your time!

Thu, September 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterYvonne

I would add that aluminum in vaccines is very dangerous as well, especially given the current vaccination schedule and increasing numbers of required injections. If this concerns anyone, remember that you can get exemptions from vaccines depending on your state. All but 2 states allow a medical exemption, and most states allow either a religious or philosophical exemption. Thanks, Stephanie, for posting information about aluminum!

Tue, September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

So now, everyone is talking about aluminum and how dangerous it is. How do we get rid of it in our bodies

Fri, October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGladys

So Potassium Alum and Ammonium Alum fall into this category of unsafe ingredients?

Sun, December 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTeri

Yes, they do, Teri.

Fri, January 4, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

Well, this is depressing. I've been allergic to every scent of pit putty I've tried through Bubble and Bee or any other company and now I use Green Virgin crystal deodorant and it has been working well for me, no reaction and no smell. Not sure what to do now.

Sat, January 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMissy

@Missy--send me an e-mail--let's get this figured out! :)

Sat, January 12, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

I've read that there is aluminum in things like bentonite, kaolin and other types of cosmetic clays, what is your opinion about using the different types of clay for topical or internal use(for detoxification)?

Sun, January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

That's a great question, Melissa. You're right--these clays do contain aluminum. However, it is unclear if and how they pose a risk. In an alkaline environment it would be a non-issue (for instance, a clay found in a soap) because the aluminum wouldn't be leaching. In a strongly acidic environment, it is possible for the aluminum to leach. I asked a supplier of clay about this very question, and this is part of what they said:

"The aluminum that is part of the clay molecule is completely inert. It will NEVER be absorbed into the body, even if minute amounts clay were to somehow reach the body's active metabolism ( rather than simply being eliminated in the feces ). Is it possible that there is elemental aluminum or homonuclear aluminum in clay? Yes, it is possible.

Dr. Richard Anderson, and others, have taken extremely copious amounts of bentonite clay internally. Then, using hair analysis ( which is not my favorite testing procedure ) demonstrated that either normal, or lower than normal amounts of aluminum existed in-body.

Melisa testing has confirmed the same thing

This is due to the fact that the aluminum element is central to the montmorillonite molecule holding the negative charge around it as a cloud of oxygen molecules. In effect, part of the negative charge of Montmorillonite is attributed to the aluminum. Removal of the aluminum from the montmorillonite molecule would result in a loss of the drawing properties of the molecule. Our bodies do not have sufficient digestive juices to split apart such a highly negatively charged molecule. As the Technical Data Sheet explains, the aluminum is not leachable by any means."

Wed, January 16, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

I am a little what is already been absorbed in the body remains forever?..even if one stops today of all products contaminated?

Fri, February 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterautumn

I am trying to find a decent antiperspirant as the natural deodorants don't work well for me. What is worse, aluminum or GSE?

It seems that the only two products that might work for me contain either one of these in them but at least the other ingredients seem not as bad as most traditional deodorants.

Also, do you sell any of your products through an online or local stores? I hate to pay shipping for a small order. Thank you!

products i am considering are:
1. Nature de France - Le Stick Natural Deodorant Unscented
2. Tom's of Maine - Naturally Dry Deodorant Unscented

Wed, February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

Where is your source that says that Potassium Alum is most absorbable form of aluminum you can put on your skin?

Wed, February 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

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