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The Real Facts About Alzheimers and Aluminum - from EHSO

Alzheimers & Aluminum

Question: I have heard that aluminum may be involved in the development of Alzheimer's Disease. Does use of aluminum cookware and drinking from aluminum beverage cans place me at greater risk for developing this disease.

Answer: Aluminum is one of the most abundant elements found in the environment. Therefore, human exposure to this metal is common and unavoidable. However, intake is relatively low because this element is highly insoluble in many of its naturally occurring forms. The significance of environmental contact with aluminum is further diminished by the fact that less than 1% of that taken into the body orally is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract.

The average human intake is estimated to be between 30 and 50 mg per day. This intake comes primarily from foods, drinking water, and pharmaceuticals. Based on the maximum levels reported in drinking water, less than 1/4 of the total intake comes from water. Some common food additives contain aluminum. Due to certain additives, processed cheese and cornbread are two major contributors to high aluminum exposures in the American diet. With regard to pharmaceuticals, some common over-the-counter medications such as antacids and buffered aspirin contain aluminum to increase the daily intake significantly.

Over the last few years, there has been concern about the exposures resulting from leaching of aluminum from cookware and beverage cans. However, as a general rule, this contributes a relatively small amount to the total daily intake. Aluminum beverage cans are usually coated with a polymer to minimize such leaching. Leaching from aluminum cookware becomes potentially significant only when cooking highly basic or acidic foods. For example, in one study, tomato sauce cooked in aluminum pans was found to accumulate 3-6 mg aluminum per 100 g serving.

Certain aluminum compounds have been found to be an important component of the neurological damage characteristics of Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Much research over the last decade has focused on the role of aluminum in the development of this disease. At this point, its role is still not clearly defined. Since AD is a chronic disease which may take a long time to develop, long-term exposure is the most important measure of intake. Long-term exposure is easiest to estimate for drinking water exposures. Epidemiological studies attempting to link AD with exposures in drinking water have been inconclusive and contradictory. Thus, the significance of increased aluminum intake with regard to onset of AD has not been determined.

Conclusions about a connection between Aluminum and Alzheimer's Disease from other sources and references:

No connection

    bulletNIH: "In spite of existing polemics all over the world about the role of Al as a risk factor for AD, in recent years, scientific evidence has demonstrated that Al is associated with the development of AD."
  • Alheimer's Society: "The overwhelming medical and scientific opinion is that the findings outlined above do not convincingly demonstrate a causal relationship between aluminium and Alzheimer's disease, and that no useful medical or public health recommendations can be made − at least at present (Massey and Taylor 1989)."
  • Alzheimer's Organization: "During the 1960s and 1970s, aluminum emerged as a possible suspect in Alzheimer's. This suspicion led to concern about exposure to aluminum through everyday sources such as pots and pans, beverage cans, antacids and antiperspirants. Since then, studies have failed to confirm any role for aluminum in causing Alzheimer's. Experts today focus on other areas of research, and few believe that everyday sources of aluminum pose any threat."

Uncertain connection

    bulletWebMD: "On the whole, scientists can say only that it is still uncertain whether exposure to aluminum plays a role in Alzheimer's disease."

Positive connection

    bulletNone found among major universities, medical organizations, governmental health organizations, etc. There are a large number of unaffiliated dot-com websites that make the claim that there is an association, but none of these conduct research of their own which has been substantiated independently by 3rd parties reproducing their results and thus cannot be considered credible by an objective scientist. Those included below are presented merely to gove voice to an opposing view:
  • "Five population studies now link Alzheimer's disease to aluminum in drinking water."
  • "In conclusion, the link between aluminum and Alzheimer's has been well established. The sources used for this article represent a small portion of the research that has been done in this area. This is contrary to the Alzheimer's Association's claim that Almost all scientists today focus on other areas of research, and few experts believe that everyday sources of aluminum pose any threat. [21]"

For more information on Alzheimer's Disease (AD) please see: