As of 2012, no medical or environmental study had proved that aluminum zirconium — a common ingredient in antiperspirant — increases the risk for any disease, including breast cancer or Alzheimer's disease. There are, however, many people who believe that the use of antiperspirants that contain aluminum zirconium is dangerous. Some studies into the potential dangers of aluminum zirconium have suggested there there might be some type of connection, but others have found no link, and there has been no evidence proving that aluminum zirconium has caused any disease. These studies are likely to continue, because further research is needed to confirm or refute the opinion of most medical experts and scientists that aluminum zirconium is not dangerous.
Use in Antiperspirants
Aluminum zirconium — or, more precisely, aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly — is used in antiperspirants because it has several qualities that reduce sweating. It is absorbed by the skin, where the ions of aluminum and zirconium cause the skin cells to swell. This pinches the sweat glands closed and keeps them from releasing perspiration. The compound also absorbs any perspiration that does occur.
According to some people, aluminum zirconium blocks toxins from escaping through the armpits, causing them to accumulate in the lymph nodes near the breast. This is a nonscientific explanation, however, that often accompanies a promotion of an alternative kind of antiperspirant or deodorant. For some people, using an antiperspirant that doesn't contain this chemical might be beneficial because of skin allergies, but this has nothing to do with cancer or other potential dangers of aluminum zirconium.
Some people also believe that the dangers of aluminum zirconium include a link between certain aluminum compounds and Alzheimer's disease. Research, however, has not found any positive association between the disease and antiperspirants or other everyday sources of aluminum. Medical experts do not know what causes Alzheimer's and have explored many avenues of research. Some studies have found aluminum to be present in brains of people who have suffered from neurological damage, such as that associated with Alzheimer's disease, but many experts believe this link to be merely secondary and not causal.
No Cause for Alarm
Most aluminum is ingested by humans through water and processed food, not through the skin from hygiene products. Many health associations, including those that focus on cancer and Alzheimer's disease, have worked to lay to rest the rumors about the dangers of aluminum zirconium or the use of antiperspirants. Until scientific research proves that there is a link between the use of antiperspirants that contain aluminum zirconium and any diseases, there is no cause for someone to be concerned.