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Dangers of Aluminum

Aluminum uptake is one of many risk factors of Alzheimer's Disease (AD).  In this article, we will examine this risk factor in more details.  For other risk factors of AD, read this companion article:

Harmful Effects of Aluminum

Aluminium is the most widely distributed metal in the environment and is extensively used in daily life that provides easy exposure to human beings. The exposure to this toxic metal occurs through air, food and water[24,26]. However, there is no known physiological role for aluminium within the body—no known diseases are linked to aluminum shortagesand hence this metal may produce adverse physiological effects[8,26].

Aluminum causes problems in the body largely by competing with several other elements with similar characteristics.[27]  If you are deficient in such minerals as magnesium, calcium, or iron, then aluminum is always there to take their place inside your cells.  Although the body tries to excrete most of the aluminum it takes in, any excess is deposited in various tissues including bone, brain, liver, heart, spleen, and muscle.  In certain tissues with relatively low turnover—such as the brain—aluminum is difficult to remove once it's in place, resulting in long-term damage.

In different researches, scientists have identified Aluminum's toxicity to human body in multiple ways:

  1. Al is associated with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)[2,4-7,13-17]
    • Apoptotic pathway is believed to represent an important mechanism for the physiological or pathological neural cell death. 
    • It has been reported that aluminum (Al) can induce apoptosis in neural cells of rodent models and is associated with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). 
    • Those neurofibrillary tangles associated with Alzheimer's disease contain aluminum. 
  2. Al can induce DNA damage (or Al is genotoxic compound)[3]
    • The available data suggest that Al can induce DNA damage by modifying the structure of chromatin through the induction of reactive oxygen species or by damaging lysosomal membranes and liberating DNase.
    • The study  points toward oxidative stress or liberation of DNase as the major source of DNA damage induced by Al[1].
  3. Al enhances inflammation and decreases mucosal healing[18]
  4. Al may induce anaemia[21-22]
  5. Al particles may cause functional lung disorder[24]
  6. Aluminum chloride may corrode the skin, irritate the mucous membranes in the eyes, and cause perspiration, shortness of breath and coughing[24]
  7. Alum (明礬) increases blood clotting[24]
  8. Al has estrogen-like effects
    • The estrogen-like effects of Al salts have led to their classification as a metalloestrogen[11]
    • Aluminium increases estrogen-related gene expression in human breast cancer cells cultured in the laboratory[10,20]
    • Some researchers have expressed concerns that the aluminium in antiperspirants may increase the risk of breast cancer[9,23]

Avoid Aluminum

You can reduce the exposure of Al by avoiding the following food or non-food items:

  • Processed foods
    • On April 06, 2012, Consumers' Foundation (消費者文教基) in Taiwan has announced  that[3]:
      • Up to 67 percent of the sampled foods contain excessive aluminum:
        • Donuts (甜甜圈)
        • Fritters (油條)
        • Bread (饅頭)
          • Alum was used by bakers in England during the 1800s to make bread whiter
        • Kelp (海帶) and 
        • Vermicelli (粉絲) 
      • These foods contains excessive aluminum mainly due to the use of aluminum-containing emulsifying agent (明礬 膨鬆劑; KAl(SO4)2‧12H2O) or bleaching agent.
    • Aluminium in food may be absorbed more than aluminium from water.[12]
  • Antacids
  • Aluminum cans
  • Aluminum cookware
    • Note that EWG recommends cookware made of stainless, cast iron, or glass
  • Alumimu foil
  • Aluminum-containing vaccines
    • Aluminum is incorporated into some vaccines as an adjuvant.  The purpose of formulating vaccines with adjuvants is to increase the immune response to the antigen (the component of the vaccine that stimulates the immune system to make antibodies). 
  • Antiperspirants
  • Baking Soda
    • If you use baking soda in your bakery items, choose aluminum free ones.
  • Hibiscus tea[19]
  • Nondairy creamers
  • Table Salt
    • Use sea salt (or mined Himalayan salt) instead of table salt, which is processed with aluminum to avoid caking
  • Sunscreens[26]
    • Also, there is a correlation found between the increased use of sunscreens and increased melanoma incidences.
  • Infant formulas[26]
    • When a child takes infant formulas with aluminum
      • Her gut is not fully developed, which means more aluminum can go into her blood
      • Her kidney is less developed, which means less aluminum is excreted
      • Her blood-brain barrier is not fully developed, which means more aluminum can access her brain


  1. Aluminum-Induced Micronuclei and Apoptosis in Human Peripheral-Blood Lymphocytes Treated during Different Phases of the Cell Cycle
  2. Research presented at the Keele Aluminum Conference strengthens aluminum's link to cancer, Alzheimer's disease & more
  3. 當心! 67%甜甜圈、油條等食品 含超量鋁 (Taiwan News)
  4. Virginie Rondeau, Daniel Commenges, Hélène Jacqmin-Gadda and Jean-François Dartigues.  Relation between Aluminum Concentrations in Drinking Water and Alzheimer's Disease: An 8-year Follow-up Study Am. J. Epidemiol. (2000) 152 (1): 59-66. doi: 10.1093/aje/152.1.59
  5. Swegert,C.V., Dave,K.R. and Katyare,S.S. (1999) Effect of aluminium-induced Alzheimer like condition on oxidative energy metabolism in rat liver, brain and heart mitochondria. Mech. Ageing Dev., 112, 27–42.
  6. Tsunoda,M. and Sharma,R.P. (1999) Modulation of tumor necrosis α expression in mouse after exposure to aluminium in drinking water. Arch. Toxicol., 73, 419–426.
  7. Rogers,M.A. and Simon,D.G. (1999) A preliminary study of dietary aluminium intake and risk of Alzheimer's disease. Age Ageing, 28, 205–209.
  8. Aluminium neurotoxicity: neurobehavioural and oxidative aspects. (PubMed)
  9. Exley C, Charles LM, Barr L, Martin C, Polwart A, Darbre PD (2007). "Aluminium in human breast tissue". J. Inorg. Biochem.101 (9): 1344–6
  10. Darbre, P. D. (2006). "Metalloestrogens: an emerging class of inorganic xenoestrogens with potential to add to the oestrogenic burden of the human breast". Journal of Applied Toxicology 26 (3): 191–7. 
  11. Aluminum (Wikipedia)
  12. Yokel RA, Hicks CL, Florence RL (2008). "Aluminum bioavailability from basic sodium aluminum phosphate, an approved food additive emulsifying agent, incorporated in cheese". Food and chemical toxicology 46 (6): 2261–6.
  13. Ferreira PC, Piai Kde A, Takayanagui AM, Segura-Muñoz SI (2008). "Aluminum as a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease". Rev Lat Am Enfermagem 16 (1): 151–7.
  14. Hawkes, Nigel (2006-04-20). "Alzheimers linked to aluminium pollution in tap water". The Times (London).
  15. Aluminum and Alzheimer's disease (PubMed)
  16. Aluminum may mediate Alzheimer’s disease through liver toxicity, with aberrant hepatic synthesis of ceruloplasmin and ATPase7B, the resultant excess free copper causing brain oxidation, beta-amyloid aggregation and Alzheimer disease. (PubMed)
  17. Acute and chronic neurotoxicity of aluminium oxide nanoparticles in mice. (Keele Aluminum Conference)
  18. Aluminium enhances inflammation and decreases mucosal healing in experimental colitis in mice.  (Keele Aluminum Conference)
  19. Hot watery infusion of Hibiscus sabdariffa petals, a potential source of aluminium in the human diet. (Keele Aluminum Conference)
  20. Effect of aluminium on migratory and invasive properties of human breast cancer cells in culture.  (Keele Aluminum Conference)
  21. Aluminium-induced anaemia in haemodialysis patients. (PubMed)
  22. Aluminum-induced anemia. (PubMed)
  23. Antiperspirants, aluminium salts and relationship with breast cancer.  (Keele Aluminum Conference)
  24. Aluminum (Al) and water
  25. Aluminum In Vaccines
  26. You can call me Al (Video; by Chris Exley)
    • Solution: Drinking silicon-rich mineral water, you pee aluminium.
  27. The Healthy Home by Dave Wentz and Dr. Myron Wentz with Donna K. Wallce