Aluminum is a neurotoxin, that is, a poison to the brain and nervous system. Some experts have long speculated that this metal plays a role in Alzheimer’s disease. Fortunately, there’s also evidence that suggests that a number of natural plant extracts and nutrients can prevent and/or reduce aluminum toxicity in the brain and prevent the progression of memory loss and other cognitive deficits.
A team of neuroscientists led by Dr. Walter Lukiw, PhD, Professor of Neurology, Neuroscience and Ophthalmology at Louisiana State University, has been studying the potential contribution of aluminum to the onset, development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease for about 30 years.
Dr. Lukiw and his fellow researchers recently summarized the research linking aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease in a peer-reviewed article published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.
They stated that “Aluminum’s contribution to Alzheimer’s disease is based on at least seven independently derived observations.”
This is a short explanation of the 7 pieces of evidence:
– Aluminum causes an inflammation in the brain by increasing the pro-inﬂammatory molecule called nuclear factor-kappa beta (NF-kB), an important feature in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
– It stimulates beta-amyloid plaques in the brain at levels matching those currently found in humans.
– It leads to the same kinds of cellular energy deficits that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease, like impaired signaling involving ATP and energy utilization.
– A number of studies have revealed a link between the levels of aluminum in tap water and the incidence of Alzheimer’s. (it’s common practice for aluminum to be added to drinking water around the globe, with the aim to clarify or “finish” it.)
– Out of the many thousands of brain gene messenger RNA molecules (molecules that convey genetic information from DNA to cause gene expression), aluminum increases the same ones that are increased in Alzheimer’s disease.
– The animals suffering from Alzheimer’s who had aluminum added to their diets had additional brain changes linked to Alzheimer’s disease, like programmed cell death, oxidative stress, and deficits in gene expression.
– The most effective Alzheimer’s therapy so far is chelation, which makes use of an aluminum chelator.
The effect of aluminum and its potential to lead to Alzheimer’s cannot be tested on humans, so researchers try to get to some conclusion by conducting animal studies.
However, scientists now have proven that aluminum, even in small doses, directly leads to learning deficits, Alzheimer’s-like memory impairment, and behavioral problems in animals.
For example, it has been shown that rats which consume aluminum in the same amounts as Americans consume it through food suffer severe Alzheimer’s-type cognitive deterioration in old age.
Namely, animals which have been subjected to aluminum, apart from developing Alzheimer’s-like symptoms, also show definitive evidence of this disease in the brain.
– Aluminum accumulates in the brain cells of particular regions of the brain most prone to damage in Alzheimer’s disease.
– Many studies have demonstrated how aluminum causes beta-amyloid plaques to abnormally form in the brains of animals. These plaques, the hallmark features of Alzheimer’s disease, form when pieces of sticky proteins called beta-amyloid clump together and block cell-to-cell signaling at synapses. They also activate immune system cells that trigger inflammation and devour disabled cells. Aluminum-induced beta-amyloid plaques occur in exactly the same brain regions in animals as they do in humans.
Third, another brain change consistent with Alzheimer’s disease also occurs in animals exposed to aluminum: the formation of what are known as neurofibrillary tangles.[6, 10-12] Neurofibrillary tangles are abnormal collections of twisted protein threads found inside nerve cells that consist primarily of a protein called tau. Like beta-amyloid plaques, neurofibrillary tangles damage the ability of neurons to communicate with each other and are a hallmark feature of Alzheimer’s disease.
This is what some of them have said about the link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease:
“There is growing evidence for a link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease… it is widely accepted that aluminum is a recognized neurotoxin and that it could cause cognitive deﬁciency and dementia…” Masahiro Kawahara, Department of Analytical Chemistry, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kyushu University of Health and Welfare, Japan
“…studies suggest that aluminum may not be as innocuous as was previously thought and that aluminum may actively promote the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.” Stephen Bondy, Environmental Toxicology Program, Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, Department of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, CA
“Overall, the evidence indicates that Alzheimer’s disease is a human form of chronic aluminum neurotoxicity.” J.R. Walton, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, St George Hospital, Sydney, Australia
“The hypothesis that aluminum significantly contributes to Alzheimer’s disease is built upon very solid experimental evidence and should not be dismissed. Immediate steps should be taken to lessen human exposure to aluminum…” Lucija Tomljenovic, PhD., University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
“As scientific publications continue to support the hypothesis that aluminum toxicity is involved in Alzheimer’s disease, it would be prudent to adopt strategies for preventing excessive aluminum exposures…” Maire Percy, Ph.D., University of Toronto, Canada.
The renowned expert Dr. Christopher Exley, Ph.D., of Keele University in the United Kingdom is yet another distinguished name on the long list of researchers into the link between aluminum toxicity and cognitive deterioration.
He and his team discovered that aluminum accumulation in the brain increases with age. He discovered that a great percentage of people over 70 have a potentially pathological aluminum amount accumulated in their brain. His team was the first to recognize the link between aluminum exposure and early-onset Alzheimer’s after finding very high levels of aluminum in the brain of a patient diagnosed with the disease. His occupation led to excessive exposure to aluminum which was directly responsible for his impaired cognitive function. He discovered that the more people were exposed to aluminum the poorer their performance was on memory tests and other cognitive operations.
In his published papers, Dr. Exley documents the case of a previously healthy man, who at the age of 58 was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He was exposed to aluminum sulfate dust in his line of work for 8 years.
At first, the subject experienced from tiredness, mouth ulcers, and headaches, and as time passed by, he started exhibiting signs of depression, memory issues and was finally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
After his death in 2011, the patient’s brain was examined at the autopsy. It was revealed that there were abundant beta-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the cerebral cortex of his brain, consistent with Alzheimer’s in an advanced stage. His family and the local coroner required that the samples of the brain tissue were sent to Dr. Exley for further analysis of aluminum toxicity.
Dr. Exley was given a rare opportunity to systematically examine the aluminum in the specific regions of the brain and his theories were confirmed. He found such high amounts of aluminum in the frontal lobe of the man’s brain which is undoubtedly what led to the onset and progression of the disease.
Even though Dr. Exley’s research isn’t definite proof about the direct link between aluminum toxicity and the aggressive onset of Alzheimer’s, he still claims that if we have in mind aluminum’s neurotoxicity, it’s most likely the main cause.
The amount of evidence showing link between Alzheimer’s disease and aluminum continues to grow every day. So, the best thing you can do is to take better care of yourself if you want to preserve your cognitive functions and protect your overall health.