Dr. Patricia Farrell on Medika Life

It Hits Your “Pits” to Stop Odors, But Are They Safe?

Smelling pleasant, or at least not smelling, is the order of the day. New products promising to quell odors all over your body have hit the market, and we need information on them.

Body odor is not a pleasant topic, but it’s usually on our minds before we leave the house in the morning or go to any event. Offending body odor is a sure way to get yourself pushed aside and ignored, so it’s an important aspect of our health and involvement in our culture. However, for the most part, body odor has been confined to our armpits, not the rest of our bodies.

Advertisements on the Internet and television are now widening the scope of attention regarding total body odors and how to contain them. Many new products are offered for our anatomy’s most intimate parts. We must wonder if they are safe, whether they will cause any problems, and what we should look for.

There are two ways to approach the question of body odor: antiperspirant and deodorant. Antiperspirants prevent the sweat glands from producing, and deodorants cover up any odor from the sweat you produce. Over time, the formulation of some of these products has caused concern because some of them contain aluminum, and it was feared that that might contribute to either breast cancer or some cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer’s.

Compounds based on aluminum are what make antiperspirants work. They block the sweat glands to keep sweat from reaching the skin’s surface. According to some prior research, these aluminum chemicals could enter the skin and alter how estrogen receptors function in breast cells. However, it is not believed that this is a cause of breast cancer any longer. In fact, the American Cancer Society has indicated that these products are safe and do not cause cancer.

But in 2021, a citizen petition was sent to the US Food and Drug Administration saying that benzene, a chemical that is known to cause cancer, was found in more than half of 108 batches of antiperspirant and deodorant body sprays from 30 different brands. Benzene is a Class One toxic substance that is not to be used in any drug substance product, and we have recently learned that it may still be in some cosmetics, even high-end products. The petition to the FDA did result in several products being removed from the market.

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals like parabens and are found in some deodorants and antiperspirants. These chemicals can act like hormones in the body, affecting how hormones are normally controlled. Studies have found a connection between endocrine disruptors and many health issues, such as infertility, children having delays in their brain development, and even cancer.

It is important to know that because of these possible health risks, the European Union and several other countries have banned the use of some parabens in cosmetics, like deodorants and antiperspirants. However, in the United States, the FDA has permitted using some parabens, as anti-microbials in food packaging to prevent spoilage. Does this seem wise?

What about whole-body deodorizing products and their safety? The FDA comes down on two sides: deodorant and antiperspirant. Deodorants do not need FDA approval because they are considered cosmetics. Some of the ingredients in these all-over deodorants come from plants and minerals. They may also contain essential oils like lavender, mint, cucumber, coconut, and coconut, and acids to make the pH level more acidic. The goal is to eliminate the germs that make you smell bad when you sweat.

However, there is a real health concern about antiperspirants and deodorants. Many everyday items, like deodorants and antiperspirants, contain chemicals called phthalates. These chemicals are also found in many beauty and self-care products. Phthalates are added to products because they help keep the skin wet and help the products work better on the skin. They are also sometimes used in fragrances. They are also used to keep nail polish from chipping.

Because of the law, there are very few phthalates in the world. However, the government must know about any leak into the atmosphere, no matter how small. Phthalates are known to harm the environment but are not controlled in beauty or personal care items. The FDA does not look at or approve cosmetics or the chemicals that go into them before they are sold to the public.

Sometimes, a chemical may not have been included in the manufacturing process but may spontaneously develop in the packages after it reaches the retail market. A group of products, including acne treatments, sunscreen, and several other skin–care products, were recently found to contain benzene. This carcinogenic product can be produced after the item is manufactured since chemicals will begin to break down and then form benzene. There is no evidence that this has happened with antiperspirants or deodorants, but consumers need to be aware of it.

We all need to remember that our skin is the largest organ of our body, and this waterproof covering protects us from contaminants, bacteria, and other materials that could damage our health. An informed consumer who carefully reads package ingredients and any warnings on the labels is sure to be a healthier consumer.

Deciding where, how much, and when to use antiperspirants or deodorants is a vital decision on your part and should not be made casually. Some skin on your body is much more likely to absorb chemicals than other areas of skin. A word to the wise is sufficient here.

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Pat Farrell PhD
Pat Farrell PhDhttps://medium.com/@drpatfarrell
I'm a licensed psychologist in NJ/FL and have been in the field for over 30 years serving in most areas of mental health, psychiatry research, consulting, teaching (post-grad), private practice, consultant to WebMD and writing self-help books. Currently, I am concentrating on writing articles and books.


Medika Editor: Mental Health

I'm a licensed psychologist in NJ/FL and have been in the field for over 30 years serving in most areas of mental health, psychiatry research, consulting, teaching (post-grad), private practice, consultant to WebMD and writing self-help books. Currently, I am concentrating on writing articles and books.

Patricia also acts in an editorial capacity for Medika's mental health articles, providing invaluable input on a wide range of mental health issues.

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