Dr Shannon Klekociuk
Lots of claims are made about various risk and protective factors for conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease. Some of these have scientific merit and some of these don’t but, because a lot of them are discussed in the media, it makes it really hard to unpack what is a genuine protective or risk factor and what isn’t. Let’s briefly discuss some of the factors that appear to be more hype than hope.
Aluminium is a common metal found in the earth’s crust, in the food we eat and in the water we drink. It has various uses from building cars, trains and other vehicles, right through to more domestic uses, such as pots and pans, cutlery. It’s even used for some cosmetics, such as anti-perspirant deodorant. During the ‘60s and ‘70s, there was a lot of concern that exposure to aluminium might increase a person’s risk of developing dementia. Since then, there have been various studies looking at the different ways in which people are exposed to aluminium and whether this might be associated with an increased risk of developing dementia. In one of the most cited studies in this area, researchers from the UK estimated aluminium consumption via water over a 10 year period. They looked at people who developed Alzheimer’s Disease, brain cancer and other diseases that cause dementia. Their results found no support to suggest that the consumption of aluminium via water would increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease, brain cancer or any other disease.
Even exposed to aluminium at high levels, for example a chemical spill, has not been shown to have long term consequences for brain health. To date, there is no evidence that supports a link between every day aluminium exposure and an increased risk of developing diseases like Alzheimer’s or other diseases that cause dementia.