The Link Between Aluminum and Alzheimer’s

You may have heard of this claim before: aluminum is a neurotoxin that can increase one’s risk of Alzheimer’s — but how relevant is this statement today?

Well, according to the research, there is a significant amount of evidence that showcases a clear connection between this metal and damaged brain tissue.

Where did this suspicion come from and what has modern science uncovered?

Where Did This Claim Come From?

Over the years, the possible connection between aluminum and the development of Alzheimer’s has been strongly debated. In the 1960s and 1970s, aluminum emerged as a possible culprit regarding the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

This raised suspicions regarding aluminum cans, pots and even antiperspirants. In fact, while studying rabbits in 1965, aluminum was shown to cause tangles in the brain. Due to a lack of longitudinal studies, however, definitive proof has been difficult to establish.

Although it’s been debated, based on developing research, it appears that as you take in small amounts through your nose, skin and mouth, this neurotoxin begins to accumulate in the body. This had lead to a buildup of evidence surrounding diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Based on more recent findings, it’s challenging to view this connection as anything but probable. Various case studies and experimental research are now showing that aluminum may, in fact, play a role within cognitive decline. This is sparking interest once again.

The Connection Between Aluminum and Alzheimers

Researchers are now encouraging everyone to consider the possible link between aluminum and degenerative neurological conditions. Of course, they do not believe that aluminum is the only factor — but it is one that we need to consider.

In order to verify this connection, researchers have looked to those with early-onset.

Among those who suffer from an inherited form of Alzheimer’s, known as familial Alzheimer’s disease, it appears that their brains exhibit significantly higher levels of aluminum. The aluminum levels recorded in brain tissue from these patients, were similar to individuals who had died of aluminum-induced encephalopathy.

These findings were published in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, reporting some of the highest brain-aluminum levels ever recorded. Conducted at Keele University, the researchers studied the brains of twelve patients who had familial Alzheimer’s (aged 42 to 86 years old).

After examining 144 brain parts, aluminum was found in all areas examined. In fact, they found that:

  • 58% of participants had levels that were higher than 3 micrograms, which is considered to be a significant hazard. To put this into perspective — when individuals display 2 micrograms per gram of tissue, this is considered to be alarming.

  • When using aluminum-specific fluorescence microscopy, the presence of this heavy metal was found in each of the familial Alzheimer’s brains. Appearing to be intracellular (shown with both dead and dying neurons), as well as extracellular (found in large deposits), aluminum was found to be very close in vicinity to plaque-like structures.

This study has led researchers to believe that genetic predispositions to early onset Alzheimer’s are linked to a higher accumulation of aluminum in brain tissue. In comparison, when looking at older adults, they showcase a lifetime accumulation of aluminum and a higher risk of Alzheimer’s.

When exposed, it appears that aluminum can produce similar changes in the brain as seen within Alzheimer’s disease. Meaning, as aluminum accumulates, it causes your brain to age faster. For those with early-onset, an accelerated accumulation of aluminum may be a key driving force. Of course, further studies need to be conducted, as there are still gaps in the available research.

You may view some additional research here:

How Are We Exposed to Aluminum?

If you would like to actively reduce your exposure to aluminum, then you need to better understand how you’re exposed to this metal on a daily basis. Some of the most common sources include:

  • Workplace environments, especially among those who are exposed during the processing and production of aluminum and its alloys.

  • Our food, including the way certain ingredients are cooked and stored.

  • Our drinking water, which is why many opt for filtration systems.

  • Antiperspirants have been linked to issues surrounding cancer, in relation to aluminum-based compounds. There have also been concerns surrounding neural health.

Even if aluminum does not cause Alzheimer’s, it’s clear that increased exposure results in a range of negative health effects. Whether you want to protect your brain, liver or heart, here are some basic tips to reduce your exposure to not only aluminum, but other heavy metals, such as lead:

  • Use organic, all-natural body products, including deodorants and facial creams.
  • Avoid using aluminum foil while cooking, in addition to non-stick cookware (such as Teflon pans).
  • Reduce your intake of canned foods, eating a diet rich in fresh, whole foods.
  • Reduce your reliance on OTC and prescription drugs.
  • Detoxify your body, sticking to a clean, active lifestyle.

Although this topic continues to spark controversy, taking a proactive approach is highly recommended. It’s all about taking those little steps within your day-to-day life, helping to protect your body and mind well into the future.

Krista Hillis has a B.A.Sc degree, specializing in neuroscience and psychology. She is actively involved in the mental health and caregiving community, aiming to help others. Krista is also passionate about nutrition and the ways in which lifestyle choices affect and influence the human brain.

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