Antiperspirant, deodorant and yoga mats: How do they work?

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Doctors have urged people to stop using the products after tests revealed hazardous levels of acrylamide

A toxin found in yoga mats and ingredients in popular household products such as antiperspirants has been found in nearly all of the antiperspirant and deodorant products tested by Mintel.

Eight out of 10 of the 278 antiperspirant and deodorant products the company tested contained hazardous levels of acrylamide.

The chemical can affect the way cells interact with their environment, including cancer cells.

A higher proportion of products contained the toxin than those which don’t contain or can’t absorb it.

According to the National Cancer Institute, acrylamide may harm DNA and cellular structure – which can interfere with hormones – and is particularly harmful to cells inside the brain.

Writing in Mintel’s trade journal Pharmaceuticals , a company spokesperson said the jury was out on whether it is harmful to humans or even desirable.

In some high-performance antiperspirants, it may help keep sweat in, while in another such product, it may be tolerated for as long as three hours.

Image copyright AP Image caption Producing synthetic versions of the natural latex chemical is one way to dilute the levels of acrylamide

The most commonly found products were female antiperspirants with either the Oxaliplatin Malerin product or the Essential Antiperspirant Unflavoured and Calorie Absorption.

The product with the most products testing positive for the toxin, 59%, was part of the Oxaliplatin Malerin 3-in-1 – which boasts similar benefits to Oxaliplatin Malerin Original Malerin, one of the most popular brands in Europe.

Cephalosporin Malerin – marketed as Foaming Aromatherapy Pleasure Formula – showed the lowest level of found of the toxin, with 18% of the products containing the chemical.

Aminoacrylamide levels were generally higher than other compounds found in antiperspirants and deodorants – including ingredient PCBs, a type of wood preservative.

In detergents and cosmetics, no chemicals with the acetone that kills bacteria were detected.

Image copyright Mintel Image caption Dr Mark Evans said the press should explain acrylamide like a cancer warnings now

According to Mintel, neither the UK nor European authorities have set levels for acrylamide, meaning the levels of the toxin in products – either through production or the sun exposure that can also induce it – has been undetermined.

“Until no new cases of cancer related to acrylamide emerge, therefore, a precautionary ban on the manufacture and sale of all products containing acrylamide and products with less than 5 parts per million acrylamide levels is recommended,” said the spokesperson.

UK doctors have urged everyone to stop using any products containing acrylamide.

“Research shows acrylamide levels from acrylamide-containing products are higher than anticipated levels associated with the consumption of ultra-processed foods – most of which are contained in those products,” said Dr Mark Evans, a consultant dermatologist at Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield.

Image copyright Mintel Image caption “You are more likely to get cancer if you work and live in a polluted environment,” says Dr Evans

“It’s estimated that overexposure to this toxin may increase the risk of developing cancer by as much as 80%.

“The increase is much more pronounced in people with existing cancer.”

Dr Evans said: “If you live, work and play in a polluted environment, even just a few hours per day, you are more likely to get cancer.

“Every time you wash your face, let alone deodorise, you are breathing in even more acrylamide that can seriously damage your health.”

Do you know of any products in the UK that contain acrylamide? Email [email protected] or tell us on Twitter @bbchealthwatch.

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