Evidence from a 2014 study leaves little doubt when it comes to proving that aluminum is linked to dementia, autism, and Parkinson’s disease. The case study from the Keele University in the UK shows that high levels of aluminum in the brain of an individual exposed to aluminum at work later died of Alzheimer’s disease (2). Until now the link has just been an implication, but the case claims to be the first direct link between Alzheimer’s disease and elevated brain aluminum levels following occupational exposure. Science is now finally catching up to what was initially suspected, that it is dangerous.
In the case study, a sixty-six-year-old man developed aggressive early onset Alzheimer’s after eight years of occupational exposure to aluminum dust, which scientists conclude, “suggests a prominent role for the olfactory system and lungs in the accumulation of aluminum in the brain.” (3) Another such example comes from a British woman who died of early- onset Alzheimer’s who had high aluminum levels found in her tissues. Reportedly this took place sixteen years after an industrial accident dumped twenty metric tons of aluminum sulfate into her local drinking water (1).
How it finds it’s way into your system
Aluminum makes it’s way into your system when you inhale aluminum dust or vapors that send aluminum particles directly into your lungs in a high absorbable form, where they pass into your bloodstream and are distributed throughout your body, including your brain (4). On top of neurological problems, aluminum powder has been known to cause pulmonary fibrosis and asthma (1).
The dark side of aluminum
A filmmaker set out to prove the dark side of this metal. He exposed how aluminum mining and manufacturing have created acute ecological problems across the globe. In the film, neuroscientist Christopher Shaw reports, “Many researchers are beginning to accept that aluminum has some sort of role to play in neurogenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Whether it does in others is still an open question, but Alzheimer’s is really coming into focus and it’s fairly clear that the body of burden of aluminum from all the source to which humans are exposed may be contributing to Alzheimer’s disease.” (1)
How aluminum accumulates
The problem with aluminum is once it’s released into the environment it can’t be destroyed, it only changes its form by attaching or separating from other particles. Rain washes aluminum particles out of the air and into our water supply, where they tend to accumulate rather than degrade. And if you happen to live in an industrial area your exposure is higher than average (5).
Nine milligrams per day
The average adult in the US consumes about seven to nine milligrams of aluminum per day in food, and a lesser amount from air and water. Only about one percent of the aluminum you ingest orally gets absorbed into your body (9). Aluminum has been found in things like baking powder, self-rising flour, salt, baby formula, coffee creamers, baked goods, and processed foods. Along that same vein, cosmetics and personal care products such as antiperspirants, deodorants, lotions, sunscreens, and shampoos have all been found to have high levels of aluminum in their content (1).
When it comes to aluminum foil, research has shown that food baked in foil contains more aluminium, and while the amount on its own is safe to ingest, it still has a cumulative effect. It just adds to the total toxic load from other sources (10).
Most abundant neurotoxic metal on Earth
In short, aluminum is the most abundant neurotoxic metal on Earth and very small amounts of aluminum are needed to produce neurotoxicity, and this is satisfied through dietary intake. Additionally, aluminum sequesters different transport mechanisms to actively traverse brain barriers. Further, small amounts of aluminum accumulate in the brain tissues over a lifetime. Finally, since 1911 experimental evidence has repeatedly demonstrated that chronic aluminum intoxication reproduces neuropathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. It is now readily understood that aluminum exposure significantly contributes to Alzheimer’s disease and is built upon very solid experimental evidence that should not be dismissed (6).
Even though aluminum is not necessary for life, it is everywhere. And being readily available in the environment, we end up coming into contact with it every day. The growing evidence that it is neurotoxic, and causes Alzheimer’s is now more substantial than ever (7). But if you want to help protect yourself using things like curcumin is a must. Research suggests that curcumin has a protective effect against aluminum-induced damage by modulating the extent of oxidative stress (11).
It also decreases beta-amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease, delays neuron degradation, chelates metals, decreases microglia formation, and has an overall anti-inflammatory, antioxidant effect (1).
Reducing Your Aluminum Exposure
The easiest way to reduce your exposure to aluminum is in the home. Swap parchment paper instead of aluminum foil while cooking, use cast iron (or stainless steel) cookware instead of foil, and buy only aluminum-free deodorant (or even better, make your own!).
(1) Mercola. First Case Study to Show Direct Link Between Alzheimer’s and Aluminum Toxicity http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/03/22/aluminum-toxicity-alzheimers.aspx Published: March 22, 2014. Accessed: January 17, 2017.
(2) Journal of Medical case reports. Elevated brain aluminium and early onset Alzheimer’s disease in an individual occupationally exposed to aluminium: a case report http://jmedicalcasereports.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1752-1947-8-41 Published: February 10, 2014. Accessed: January 17, 2017.
(3) MNT. Elevated brain aluminium and early onset Alzheimer’s disease in an individual occupationally exposed to aluminium http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/272573.php Published: February 13, 2014. Accessed: January 17, 2017.
(4) Global Healing Centre. Why I’m Concerned About the Dangers of Aluminum http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/concerned-about-aluminum-dangers/ Published: December 27, 2012. Accessed: January 17, 2017.
(5) ATSDR. Public Health Statement for Aluminum https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=1076&tid=34 Published: September 2008. Accessed: January 17, 2017.
(6) NCBI. Aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease: after a century of controversy, is there a plausible link? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21157018 Published: 2011. Accessed: January 17, 2017.
(7) NCBI. Link between Aluminum and the Pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Disease: The Integration of the Aluminum and Amyloid Cascade Hypotheses https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3056430/ Published: March 8, 2011. Accessed: January 17, 2017.
(8) Youtube. Aluminum exposure may cause Alzheimer’s – report https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqf9HO3WN_A Published: December 19, 2016. Accessed: January 17, 2017.
(9) Public Health Statement for Aluminum. ATSDR. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ToxProfiles/tp22-c1-b.pdf. Accessed January 20, 2017.