The Alzheimer’s Issue

I’ve received so many emails and comments on sodium (or potassium) aluminum sulphate and its rumored relationship to Alzheimer’s that it seems a post on the subject is warranted. I tend not to like to wade into matters like these because emotions run high, but I’ll tell you what I know. Around about 1970, some doctors and research scientists began to speculate that ingested aluminum might have some causal relationship to Alzheimer’s disease. The reason, because autopsies of people who had died from Alzheimer’s revealed higher-than-normal quantities of aluminum ions in their brains. The assumption was therefore that the aluminum ions had caused the disease…though nobody could pinpoint how.

The next couple of decades saw a concerted effort to limit the accidental/incidental ingestion of aluminum among adults. Aluminum pans, aluminum cans, nonstick coatings and of course baking powder with sodium aluminum sulphate (SAS) were all thought to pose risks. The problem was that decades of attempts to limit the ingestion of aluminum did nothing to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s in adults, or decrease the severity of the disease in people who contracted it. All of which has left a lot of researchers wondering if aluminum ions might actually just be a symptom of the disease and not a cause. Today skepticism of the connection between ingested aluminum and Alheimer’s runs so high that even the Alzheimer’s Association lists it on their “Myths” web page.

Which makes quite a bit of sense to me, honestly. Aluminum is all around us. It is by a considerable margin the most abundant metal on Earth. It is the third most abundant element on the planet after oxygen and silicon. If human beings were that sensitive to it, one would think the species would have died out eons ago. Research is continuing on Alzheimer’s, hopefully one day soon a cause and/or a cure will be found. Until that day the leading risk factor will continue to be age. So for all of us hoping to avoid Alzheimer’s, the generally accepted clinical advice is: don’t get old.

6 thoughts on “The Alzheimer’s Issue”

  1. As a cook and a chef for over 35 years, most of the cooking vessels that I have used have been aluminum. If aluminum helped contribute to Alzheimer’s, there would be a higher concentration if Alzheimer’s in food service workers. Or even those who dine out often.

  2. I’m 74. When I was a kid (Detroit) I recall debate about Al pans poisoning you; cast iron were presented as better by the opposition. This was long before the purported causal association with Alzheimers. (Ha ,ha. Nickle, Chromium in “stainless” steel??? Doesn’t take many ions to do the dirty.) The answer? Don’t cook in anything but glass, (which nowadays can explode,)

  3. Hey There Joepastry,
    I just stumbled across this and, I am schizophrenic thus take antipsychotics. What are my chances of getting Alzheimer disease knowing that I have no history in my family but do have a grand mother that is senile? I am scared to death of Alzheimer and believe me it is far more wrost than mild schizophrenia.
    Keep up the good work

    1. Hi Susan!

      I wish I had an answer for you, but I don’t. It’s funny you should bring it up because I sometimes worry about it, having watched a great uncle succumb to Alzheimer’s long ago. It’s a very frightening disease. On the other hand my grandmother technically had it in her final years, but you never would have known it. She was a voracious reader and doer of crossword puzzles. I’ve hear it said that the brain is like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the better it works, even in the face of something like Alzheimer’s. It makes all the sense in the world to me.

      Sorry I can’t be of more help!

      – Joe

Leave a Reply to joepastry Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *