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Does aluminum play a role in the development of Alzheimer's?

David A. Merrill, MD
Psychiatry
Aluminum was one of the early theories regarding the cause of Alzheimer's disease because of concerns at the time about the use of aluminum cookware. That theory was debunked, although doctors still haven't figured out what causes Alzheimer's.

There have been a couple of other theories concerning metals. A mouse-model study examined copper possibly being the causal agent for Alzheimer's. Also, iron accumulating in the memory centers of the brain has been suggested as a cause.
Gary Wenk
Psychology

Absolutely not! About 40 years ago some scientists found high levels of aluminum in senile plaques, a characteristic pathological change seen in the brains of people who die with Alzheimer's disease.  We now know that this was simply a common behavior for aluminum salts; they deposit in soft tissues after injury. Aluminum plays no role in producing Alzheimer's disease.  We usually think about antiperspirants and cookware as being risks for ingesting aluminum. They are not. The aluminum in cookware can not be absorbed by the body even if it is accidentally ingested.  The aluminum in deoderants is designed to irritate the skin so that the sweat pores swell closed and prevent them from working.  Thus, aluminum actually reduces its own absorption via the skin.  In contrast, we ingest considerable amounts of aluminum in our diets.  Aluminum is rather high in grains and quite high in animals at the end of the food chain, such as cows.  Fortunately, aluminum is poorly absorbed from the gut and our bodies have no known use for it in any biochemical reaction.  Thus, it is both unavoidable and probably without risk for most of us.

However, people who are undergoing dialysis are at risk of concentrating aluminum from their dialysis fluids.  Today, even this risk is quite low.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Those neurofibrillary tangles associated with Alzheimer's disease contain aluminum (an element that makes up 14 percent of the earth's crust). While there's no evidence suggesting that aluminum causes memory problems, it's better to try to avoid it.

One way to reduce the aluminum you absorb: Use sea salt instead of table salt, which is processed with aluminum to avoid caking. Other things that contain aluminum include nondairy creamers, antacids, cans, certain cookware, and antiperspirants.
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You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty

International bestselling authors of YOU: The Owner's Manual and YOU: On a Diet give you all the tools and know-how to stay young and defy the ageing process. Drawing lively parallels between your...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.