Foiling an Aluminum Myth

It is so tempting to search for easy explanations for the onset of debilitating diseases, like Alzheimer’s, that seem to evade our medical science. But finding the culprit should be based on credible research so people aren’t accidentally dosed with a bolus of confusion alongside their existing fears. We’ve heard accusations about aluminum playing a part in the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease, but never with sources or citations. We decided to delve into the credible, medical evidence ourselves and found a lot of definitive data establishing no link between dietary aluminum and Alzheimer’s Disease.

yellow aluminum cans

Most Likely Sources of Aluminum 

First things first. Can aluminum transfer to food and beverages if they’re cooked or stored in metal pans or containers? Yes, a tiny bit can. Research has shown that heat during the cooking or baking process, and acidity from juices or soft drinks, can knock aluminum molecules free from their original spot in a frying pan, foil wrap, or beverage can. However, the amount is incredibly small. 

Something many people may not realize is that aluminum is found in great abundance in many forms on Earth and already shows up in a lot of our foods ‒ whether or not they’ve been cooked and wrapped in it. Citrus fruits are a good example of that. 

For this reason, people have from 30-50 milligrams of aluminum in their bodies at any given time – regardless of how much foil they use or soda cans they drink from. But something to know about the human body is that it’s actually very bad at absorbing aluminum. Researchers have found that we absorb barely 1% of the aluminum that passes through our bodies. That’s right, 99% of what we consume is cleared by our kidneys or passes right on through us. With this natural throttle on how much our bodies can actually absorb, it makes it increasingly difficult for aluminum to be a health culprit.

aluminum foil, dark, crumpled

Top Myths to Know about Aluminum and Alzheimer’s

Indeed, a myth buster link on the Alzheimer’s Association’s Web site states it plainly:

Myth 4: Drinking out of aluminum cans or cooking in aluminum pots and pans can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Reality: During the 1960s and 1970s, aluminum emerged as a possible suspect in Alzheimer’s. This suspicion led to concern about exposure to aluminum through everyday sources such as pots and pans, beverage cans, antacids, and antiperspirants. Since then, studies have failed to confirm any role for aluminum in causing Alzheimer’s. Experts today focus on other areas of research, and few believe that everyday sources of aluminum pose any threat.

The origin of this suspicion appears to come from a higher-than-average occurrence of aluminum in the neural tissues of Alzheimer’s patients. But according to a medical abstract published just a few months ago in, that accumulation is considered to be a result of Alzheimer’s, not its cause. 

Clearly, it’s normal to look at any physical differences between people who do and don’t have a particular disease to find clues as to its source. But it’s vitally important to distinguish between cause and coincidence

It’s also important for people concerned about Alzheimer’s to realize that avoiding aluminum packaging is not an effective way to manage their risk, and could lull them into other behaviors that are in a high-risk category. Your body has already evolved a natural filter to help it avoid excess aluminum absorption and we should continue to look elsewhere for the real cause of this terrible disease.

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