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Aluminium exposure & Alzheimer’s disease

Aluminium is not considered toxic at normal levels, however normal is not easily defined. There is increasing information suggesting that it may interfere with a variety of cellular and metabolic processes. It is the third most abundant element in the crust of the earth (after oxygen and silicon) and is very widely distributed. It is commonly found in food – baking powder, refined white flour, drinking water and processed cheese; common sources like aluminium cans; generally superseded cooking utensils, pots and pans; aluminium foil and in antiperspirant deodorants to stop us sweating. Other unlikely sources include cat litter, vaccinations, antacids, buffered aspirin and others.

We absorb it in a variety of ways. Oral ingestion is of the largest concern, however, most that is absorbed through the GIT is excreted via the kidneys. Small quantities are absorbed from cosmetics and deodorants, and inhaled Aluminium in dust is absorbed into pulmonary tissue but appears to be retained in the lungs and probably has no effect on other tissues.

The most important principle is that Aluminium has accumulative effects and contributes to stores with chronic exposure. The more we are exposed to it, the more we store it. We are all exposed to it on a daily basis and whilst it may be in small amounts, each little particle accumulates and stores in the body.

The major tissue sites of aluminium toxicity are in the nervous system, immune system, bone, liver, and red blood cells. Increased exposure levels have strong relationships with neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases. Whilst Aluminium is not technically proven to be a causative agent for Alzheimer’s disease, it is known to contribute to the development of the condition. It is known that it accumulates in a part of the brain (the neurofibrillary tangles of neurons) that characterises the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

There are many things throughout history that science responds to in hindsight. Memories of thalidomide conjure up many concerns. The best idea is to reduce your exposure as much as possible, reduce your body’s burden and encourage nutrients that encourage elimination.