My memory sure seems to be barely keeping up lately. Could it be my antiperspirant? Is there any truth that prolonged antiperspirant use causes Alzheimer's? I've tried deodorants and the crystal-thing and they're just not as effective without all that aluminum oxide in them. What can you tell me about this?
Antiperspirants containing aluminum compounds are effective at stopping the sweat because as the aluminum ions are absorbed into the skin, they block the sweat ducts so that sweat can't get out. As you've noticed, products that don't contain aluminum won't stop you from sweating; they'll just cover up the smell of the sweat when you do perspire.
Aluminum has been suspected of playing a role in Alzheimer's in large quantities. Obviously, the aluminum going on your pits is a pretty small dosage. Your body also absorbs small amounts of aluminum on a regular basis from the aluminum in water, food, over-the-counter and prescription drugs (such as antacids) and the environment. The question is whether these small amounts add up enough over time to be considered a large quantity. According to the Alzheimer's Association, "most researchers believe that not enough evidence exists to consider aluminum a risk factor for Alzheimers or a cause of dementia." But if you have a history of Alzheimer's in your family or you just want to play it extra-safe, by all means, avoid antiperspirant.
Since the average Ask Gothamist reader is probably not 78 years old, we're assuming you're still fairly young. It's likely that you've done more memory damage at this point from, say, excess drinking than using antiperspirant. If you're concerned about preventing Alzheimer's, a wise course of action would be to stay active - both mentally and physically - and eat plenty of veggies. The Alzheimer's Association reports that "cardiovascular disease risk factors such as midlife obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure also appear to speed cognitive decline later in life." According to studies, "eating vegetables like spinach and broccoli may slow cognitive decline. Activities ranging from cultural or political events to doing handicrafts were also found to promote brain health during aging."
Maybe you should try taking a political science class, an aerobics class, a knitting class, and a vegetarian cooking class to improve your memory! Of course we urge you to talk to your doctor if you have specific concerns about your memory, especially if it seems to be getting drastically worse or you've noticed a dramatic, unexplained memory loss.