Of all the myths I’ve written about, the topic of whether aluminum causes Alzheimer’s could be the one in which I’ve seen the most research. For example, I performed a search in Google Scholar using the keywords “Alzheimer’s” and “Aluminum”. The search identified 21,800 articles on the topic. Much of what I read doesn’t support the idea that there is a direct causal link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease. That is, being exposed to aluminum won’t cause you to get Alzheimer’s. However, research has also shown that there are increased levels of aluminum in the brain cells of Alzheimer’s patients. Again, it likely isn’t the aluminum that is causing Alzheimer’s, it might be that for some reason brain cells in people with Alzheimer’s tend to accumulate more aluminum. Perl and Moalem (2006) in an article in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease write “It is highly unlikely that aluminum represents an etiologic agent for Alzheimer’s disease”.
Aluminum is the third most abundant element on earth, we are exposed to trace amounts of aluminum everyday when we breath, eat, and drink. Most of the aluminum that enters our bodies is excreted. If small amounts of aluminum were toxic to humans, we would be in big trouble! The focus of this particular myth is whether cooking in aluminum pots contributes to Alzheimer’s. The aluminum exposure caused by cooking in aluminum pots is very small, and remember most of the aluminum that enters our bodies is excreted. My wife and I are crazy about popcorn; we eat it almost every night. A few years ago we bought an aluminum popcorn maker. If I thought there was even a remote chance that using this popcorn maker could contribute to Alzheimer’s, it would have been thrown out a long time ago!
Perl D & Moalem: Aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease, a personal perspective after 25 years. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (2006), Vol 9, pps. 291-300.