There have been a number of emails flying around for some time regarding the risk of aluminium and dementia. Here is the latest on the topic.
In terms of aluminium and dementia risk, very high levels of aluminium in the brain are toxic and can cause cognitive impairment, but the evidence is now fairly conclusively showing that everyday exposure through cooking utensils, deodorants etc. does not result in high enough levels to cause damage. The following is taken from the most recent Alzheimer’s Australia evidence review (Paper 29, available here) that was released with the Your Brain Matters campaign last year.
Aluminium is the third most common element on earth and we are exposed to it from many environmental sources including in water, from cooking utensils, in polluted air, in deodorants and through medical agents such as some antacids. Some studies have found higher levels of aluminium in drinking water, or measured in blood samples, are associated with an increased incidence of dementia, but many studies have failed to show any association. A recent review concluded there is only weak evidence that a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease is associated with high aluminium intake through drinking water . It is likely only abnormally high levels pose any risk.
No trials have yet looked at whether there are potential benefits of reducing aluminium intake, and at this stage there is no evidence to support avoidance of aluminium to prevent dementia. If you are worried at all, then simply avoid it.
1. Campdelacreu J. Parkinson disease and Alzheimer disease: environmental risk factors. Neurologia, 2012. Published online 13 June 2012. doi:10.1016/j.nrl.2012.04.001