Concerns of a link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s were raised when a group of researchers discovered traces of aluminum in the brains of patients who were suffering from the disease. Aluminum, a common natural element, is found in many everyday substances like deodorant, antacids, and baking powder. Additionally, many people use aluminum utensils in the kitchen and enjoy cooking with foil. Alzheimer’s is an incurable progressive brain disease that many people fear, so this discovery caused significant distress. So does aluminum really cause Alzheimer’s?
The short answer is that more research is needed. Autopsies of Alzheimer’s patients do reveal higher amounts of aluminum in the their brains, and one study did find that people who took antacids or used antiperspirants with aluminum were at a higher risk of developing the disease. However, other studies have found no correlation, and several other studies on the brains of Alzheimer’s patients showed no higher incidence of aluminum. And the Alzheimer’s Society says that the link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s has yet to be definitively proven.
So should you give up your favorite foil baked chicken recipe and swear off cooking with foil forever? Probably not. We are exposed to aluminum every day through both environmental sources and amounts found in manmade products. Even some foods contain aluminum. But even when it is from a food product, the body doesn’t absorb aluminum very well. In fact, more than 99% of aluminum from diet is likely to go through the digestive system without being absorbed. And most of the aluminum that does end up in the body is often excreted through urine or ends up deposited in the bones, which has been shown to be harmless. Additionally, aluminum in cooking utensils does not seep into food.
The Alzheimer’s Society goes on to say that there is no reason to fear aluminum, and that the overwhelming conclusion of most studies is that there is no causal relationship between the metal and the disease. So if cooking with foil is one of your favorite cooking techniques, there is no reason to stop.
- “Aluminum and Alzheimer’s Disease”, The Alzheimer’s Society
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