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Alzheimer's Disease

Role of Aluminum in Alzheimer`s Disease

04/16/1999

Question:

Is there a relationship between the intake of aluminum and the development of AD?

Answer:

Historically, aluminum has been one of the most publicized and controversial hypothesis in Alzheimer`s disease. It became suspect when researchers found traces of it the brains of AD patients. Many studies since then have either not been able to confirm this finding or have had questionable results.

Aluminum does turn up in higher amounts than normal in some autopsy studies of AD patients, but not all. Further doubt about the importance of aluminum stems from the possibility that the aluminum found in some studies did not come from the brain tissue being studied. Instead, some could have come from the substances used in the laboratory.

Aluminum is a common element in the Earth`s crust and is found in small amounts in numerous household products and in many foods. As a result, there have been fears that aluminum in the diet or absorbed in other ways could be a factor in AD. One study found that people who used antiperspirants and antacids containing aluminum had a higher risk of developing AD.

On the other hand, various studies have found that groups of people exposed to high levels of aluminum do not have and increased risk. Moreover, aluminum in cooking utensils does not get into food and the aluminum that does occur naturally in foods, such as potatoes, is not absorbed well by the body. On the whole, scientists can say only that it is still uncertain whether exposure to aluminum plays a role in AD.

(The information provided is largely derived from National Institute of Health publication number 96-3782, McNeil, C. (1996). Alzheimer`s Disease: Unraveling the Mystery.

Related Resources:

Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center

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Response by:

Jon Stuckey, PhD
Formerly
Case Western Reserve University

David   Geldmacher, MD David Geldmacher, MD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Neurology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University