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Alternatives for using under arms

The Baltimore Sun

I have read that aluminum seems to be associated with Alzheimer's disease. Could the aluminum in antiperspirants increase the risk? What else can you use to reduce underarm sweating and odor?

The aluminum/Alzheimer's connection has been debated for decades. Although there is no definitive proof, scientists have linked elevated levels of aluminum to the development of dementia (Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, May).

It is not clear whether enough aluminum is absorbed from antiperspirants to pose a problem. There are options without aluminum, however. Some readers find that milk of magnesia applied to the underarm makes a safe and effective deodorant. One person reports:

"I am allergic to every kind of antiperspirant and commercial deodorant. I heard about milk of magnesia and have been using it very successfully for about six years. There is no smell or residue on clothing."

I have taken Lipitor for several years. I've begun to notice numbness in my feet, along with sporadic memory loss. My doctor says Lipitor is not to blame. Is there any evidence that Lipitor could be connected to symptoms such as depressed mood and trouble with balance or memory?

Statin-type cholesterol-lowering drugs such as Crestor, Lipitor and Zocor reduce the risk of heart disease. Most people tolerate these drugs quite well, but some develop debilitating muscle pain. Others report mood, memory or nerve (neuropathy) problems. Many doctors don't believe that statins can cause such side effects. Others, however, have seen too many cases to disregard.

Does aspartame affect bleeding if you are taking a blood thinner such as Coumadin? I know that cranberry juice poses a potential problem with this drug. How can I keep up with Coumadin interactions?

Coumadin (warfarin) is a lifesaving drug, but it can be tricky to use. This medicine reduces the risk of blood clots that can lead to strokes or heart attacks. Getting the dose right, however, poses a significant challenge. Too much or too little can be dangerous.

Many foods and other medications can interact with Coumadin. When a person taking Coumadin drinks a lot of cranberry juice, the risk of dangerous bleeding may rise. Several cases have been reported, but scientists are still debating the clinical significance of the interaction.

Aspartame (Equal, Nutrasweet) is an artificial sweetener that may increase bleeding time (Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, February and May 1998). Although this interaction is controversial, we would encourage anyone consuming aspartame and taking Coumadin to monitor the impact on bleeding very carefully.

Sorting out all the dangerous food and drug combinations with warfarin is complicated. Our free Guide to Coumadin Interactions is available at

I have heard that licorice is helpful with digestion. All I have been able to find is artificially flavored licorice. I assume this won't work. Where can I find real licorice?

Real licorice can be found in health-food stores as licorice root, licorice tea, licorice capsules or even natural licorice candy. We would not advise using it regularly, however. Licorice contains glycyrrhizin, which can raise blood pressure, deplete potassium, alter hormone balance and lower libido.

To use licorice for digestive problems, look for DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice). This is safer and has been shown to be helpful.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or e-mail them via their Web site:

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