Thursday, May 9, 2013

Aluminum, Antiperspirants and Alzheimer's

This post was written by Glenner Center intern and soon-to-be SDSU graduate Denise La.

There have been many questions regarding if aluminum or aluminum-containing antiperspirants leads to Alzheimer’s disease. Aluminum is pretty much everywhere. It is in the cans we drink out of, it is in the pans we cook with, and it is in products like antacids, sunscreen and antiperspirants. So what is the connection and how did this all begin?

According to a Washington Post article, the connection between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease is less a myth than a longstanding scientific controversy. This scientific controversy began in 1965, when researchers made a discovery that injecting rabbits’ brains with aluminum caused them to develop neurofibrillary tangles, which are found in the brain cells of individual’s with Alzheimer’s disease. This finding created a rise in interest and research.

Eight years after the finding, a group in Canada studying brain tissue from deceased Alzheimer’s patients, discovered that there were two to three times more aluminum in certain parts of their brains than a normal brain with have. Other research include the 1997 study from England and Wales, and the World Health Organization survey in 2003, which both showed little to slim association between Alzheimer’s and aluminum.
Does aluminum and antiperspirants lead to Alzheimer’s disease? According to John Savory, a professor of pathology at the University of Virginia, “The truth is, nobody knows.”

Amy Borenstein, a professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida College of Public Health believes “If aluminum plays any role, it’s very small and there are many other, much more important risk factors to study.”
Overall, there is really little understanding about aluminum’s possible association with Alzheimer’s disease. Avoiding aluminum all together is not possible because it is everywhere. We are better off keeping our minds active and heart healthy in order to protect our brain.

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