The Strongest Antiperspirants: What You Should Know

Book Review
July 5, 2012
Stop Sweating and Start Living - Mike Ramsey

I have absolutely no hesitation in saying "Stop Sweating and Start Living" will soon put antiperspirant companies out of business.

I was reluctant at first to endorse any product but this book was different. The remedies it suggests are all-natural and target the root causes of problem sweating.

My only complaint is that it is only available as an instant access ebook. It can't be purchased in bookstores or on Amazon.com, but I'm sure the instant download feature is popular with people overseas and those who are ready to get started.

I strongly recommend "Stop Sweating and Start Living" to anyone who sweats excessively in the underarm, hand, foot, face or back areas.

- James Chambers

In today’s world not taking steps to control excessive underarm sweating and reduce underarm odor could be seen as a grave social crime. After all as more and more people enter workplaces and their professional areas underarm sweating and odor are likely to become social embarrassments as well as professional hindrances.

These factors have caused an increasing number of people to use antiperspirants and deodorants to check sweating and underarm odor. Given that the average human body contains over 3 million sweat glands sweating is an indispensable part of our lives. Indeed sweating is the body’s way of staying cool and regulating body temperature. When our body temperatures rise above the ambient temperature the body releases sweat which evaporates from the surface of the skin and cools us down. However it is when we start to sweat excessively that the problem begins.

Why do we do that? Well normally the sympathetic nervous system controls the amount of sweat that the sweat glands produce by sending neural signals through a chemical called acetylcholine. However when the sympathetic nervous system over activates the sweat glands it causes excessive perspiration medically known as hyperhidrosis. While it is not known exactly what causes the neural signals to go haywire it has been observed that excessive underarm sweating may be triggered by emotional stress or social embarrassment.

Before we proceed further it would be as well to clarify that underarm sweating does not invariably lead to underarm odor. It is when certain kinds of bacteria present on the surface of the skin break down the sweat that the odor is created. And this is where antiperspirants and deodorants come in because antiperspirants reduce underarm sweating by controlling the flow of sweat and deodorants prevent underarm odor owing to the perfume they contain. They also reduce the levels of underarm bacteria.

What is obvious from the above paragraph is that deodorants do not reduce profuse sweating whereas antiperspirants do. Most antiperspirants are available over the counter in aerosol roll-on or stick forms and the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) defines an antiperspirant as “a drug product applied topically that reduces the production of sweat (perspiration) at the site where it is applied”. Most antiperspirants can typically reduce sweat production for up to 24 hours though the strongest antiperspirants may do so for up to 48 hours.

Whatever form they are available in the strongest antiperspirants and the milder varieties have some ingredients in common. Among these are perfumes that mask underarm odor emollient oils that prevent dehydration of the skin masking oils to prevent them drying on the skin and forming deposits and an alcohol base that produces that immediate coolness that you experience when you apply an antiperspirant. Additionally the strongest antiperspirants may also use silica which rids the user of the stickiness associated with sweat.

The chemical ingredients in antiperspirants may include PEG-8 Distearate and a variety of salts that reduce the flow of underarm sweat. Most commonly these salts work by dissolving in sweat and leaving a thin coating of gel over the sweat glands which reduces the flow of sweat to the skin for a up to a few hours after the antiperspirant is applied. Other chemical ingredients in antiperspirants are ACH (aluminum chlorohydrate) and a salt called AZAG (aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex GLY).

Are the strongest antiperspirants safe?

In 2003 the FDA published a study that concluded that antiperspirants were safe. The study went some way to allay public fears that the aluminum salts in antiperspirants caused Alzheimer’s disease. In addition the Alzheimer’s Society has also declared that there is no connection between aluminum and Alzheimer’s.

At various times antiperspirants have also been rumored to cause breast cancer. Most famously this link was established by an e-mail message that appears to have originated in the 1990s and continues to circulate even today. Thanks to the Internet such messages reach the largest number of people in the shortest possible time propagating fears that may be unfounded.

Fears about antiperspirants and breast cancer stem from a variety of beliefs. Some newspaper articles in the past have suggested that the aluminum and zirconium salts present in antiperspirants get into the body through underarm sweat and form deposits in breast tissue causing cancerous growths. However the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published a study in 2002 opposing this belief.

A lot of people also believe that since most people in the world are right handed and most breast cancers are diagnosed in the left breast antiperspirants must be causing the cancer. However scientific research has established that the occurrence of cancer in the left breast is inherent because there are more arteries veins and capillaries on the left hand side of the chest that make it more prone to develop cancerous growths.

Among other cancer-related beliefs is the theory that since the body sweats to flush out toxins using antiperspirants to reduce underarm perspiration will cause the toxins to build up and lead to breast cancer. However as we have already mentioned the human body uses sweat as a temperature regulation mechanism that has nothing to do with flushing out toxins. As experts have pointed out sweat contains water (vast amounts) some sodium and some fat. That’s it. In fact the liver and kidneys remove nearly all the toxins in our bodies.

Besides antiperspirants do not really affect the body’s overall sweat production capacity only the localized production of underarm perspiration. To top it all the underarm sweat glands produce only about one per cent of the body’s sweat but it affects us more because the sweat can’t evaporate as easily from the underarm as it does from more exposed body surfaces.

What may have contributed to the breast cancer rumors is the fact that women are advised not to use underarm antiperspirants before a mammogram but that is merely to ensure that the antiperspirant does not appear on the X-Ray and is mistaken for an abnormality in the breast.

There have also been murmurs at certain times about how antiperspirant ingredients like aluminum and zirconium pierce the skin and accumulate in the breast tissue thus damaging DNA. However since most of us are exposed to aluminum on a daily basis (aluminum is one of the commonest elements on earth and a regular part of our diets) without any damage the ‘DNA damage’ theory should not to be taken too seriously.

Why use antiperspirants at all?

Prescription antiperspirants are seen as the first step in the battle to reduce underarm sweating. However antiperspirants offer at best a temporary solution because they don’t completely stop sweat production. Even the best antiperspirants that claim to be the strongest in the market reduce sweating by 30% at most according to tests run by the FDA while ordinary antiperspirants reduce sweating by only 20%.

Therefore excessive underarm sweating needs to be controlled using other means like natural antiperspirants. This is not the same as saying that antiperspirants should not be used because they damage one’s health. They merely have limited impact at best on a person’s underarm sweating and underarm odor problems.