Q. I have heard about a link between aluminum in antiperspirants and breast cancer. I have also read that aluminum may be associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Every antiperspirant I have checked has aluminum as its main ingredient, which worries me.

I switched to a deodorant of mineral salts to get away from aluminum, but I’ve just discovered that it contains alum. Is that aluminum? The crystal works great, but I don’t want aluminum in my life in any form. Is there anything I can use that doesn’t contain aluminum?

A. There is a controversy about links between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer. Neither association has been proven. Nevertheless, there is some troubling research suggesting a possible connection (Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry, Sept. 2005; Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, May, 2007). Scientists do not know whether enough aluminum is absorbed from antiperspirants to pose a risk.

Alum, which is found in many “natural” rock or stone deodorants, is aluminum potassium sulfate. Ammonium alum (ammonium aluminum sulfate) is also used in deodorant crystals.

We don’t know whether there is a problem with such products, but there is a safe alternative, milk of magnesia (magnesium hydroxide). We recently received the following message from a reader: “After searching the Web for how to get rid of strong underarm odor, I found your article on the laxative method. I have been using milk of magnesia under my arms ever since. It is a life saver!”

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  1. NC

    In a single product, the amount of aluminum is not significant enough to pose risks.
    But how often a day are we exposed to aluminum? It’s in almost all our hygiene and beauty products, not to mention our water supply and vaccines. It’s a neurotoxin so it can be linked to alzheimers. It is also linked to many cancers including breast cancer.

  2. Ivelisse

    I too, have been using Milk of Magnesium for months, after a friend told me about it, and it really WORKS WONDER. I use it once a day, in the morning after a bath and even if I sweat at times, I don’t get bad odor under my armpit. I fully recommend it because it’s totally organic and it doesn’t pose any treat to your health!

  3. LL

    I am a Female Diabetic 50 yrs. old. I always attributed my underarm odor to the diabetes, but never really sure. It is pretty bad if I don’t use a deodorant, however, nothing has ever worked except for Mitchum for MEN!! Therefore, I have used it now for over 25 yrs. Great stuff except that now I have become aware of all the harmful additives in skin care products.
    I went to the local health food store and purchased 2 or 3 kinds of natural deodorants, knowing I had this odor problem. Non of them worked.
    Read about Milk of Magnesia on this site (Peoplespharmacy.com) and YES, YES,YES,YES it works!!! I’m reborn on odor control.
    I know it sounds crazy, but Milk of Magnesia is totally organic. Why would you use anything else? I bought a tiny atomizer bottle and just spray one spray once daily. I have even missed a day and still no odor!!!! I’m 100% happy and for $4.00 a bottle, I have enough to last probably one full year!!!!

  4. tmf

    I have been using deodorant rather than antiperspirant for years due to the aluminum worry. I recently tried Milk Of Magnesia based on the People’s Pharmacy comments. It works great! Better than deodorant!

  5. heide k

    When I heard on your program someone rave about milk of magnesia as a deodorant I read the ingredients of J & J baby powder, and it too had magnesia in it. We’ve used the J&J after our showers for over 50 years, so I tried using extra under my armpits instead of a deodorant. IT WORKS JUST FINE. Deodorant was making my skin break out, even Almay.

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