New study shows we need to stop using deodorant…
Sweat. Even the word sounds unpleasant. We have around 2.6 million sweat glands in our body and for the vast majority of us, our major concern is in preventing significant numbers of these glands from functioning normally, lest we stain our clothes or offend people around us.
We consider sweat deeply embarrassing and spend a massive £550 million a year tackling it with antiperspirants and deodorants.
But medical studies are now revealing unexpected ways in which honest sweat is crucial for our health.
Without it, for example, our bodies would become corrupted with toxic metals. Our skin would also be unable to heal wounds in a manner unique to humans.
It’s long been known that sweating is vital for regulating body temperature – and that the consequences of that system failing can be fatal. As George Havenith, a professor of environmental physiology and ergonomics at Loughborough University, explains: ‘The only way the body has of cooling is by sweating and losing the heat energy by evaporating it off.
‘If you don’t sweat, you can overheat within half an hour when exercising.
‘If your body temperature goes above 40c, you suffer heat exhaustion or even heatstroke, which can be fatal.’
Indeed there is a condition called anhidrosis which puts sufferers at a high risk of suffering attacks of heatstroke – which can cause lethal damage to the brain and internal organs – because their bodies cannot use sweat to evaporate heat from their skin.
This is a rare condition, fortunately, linked to damage to the sweat glands caused by injury or (also rare) auto-immune conditions. But it highlights the importance of sweat to our health.
The potential dangers of trying to reduce sweating were shown in a recent review of evidence by Canadian investigators.
Everyone has some level of toxic metals accumulating in their bodies, thanks to the fact that arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury are common in our environment and also in food.
We consume them in shellfish, grains, and brassicas such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, which absorb them from their surroundings, and particularly from tobacco, which ‘avidly accumulates cadmium and lead from soil’, according to the review published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health.
All four metals are considered carcinogenic, as well as being harmful to our nervous systems, our hearts, brains and kidneys.