Aluminum is everywhere: it contaminates vaccines, it’s in a variety of medications, baby products, cosmetics, and it’s even in the food you eat. And like several other metals, it isn’t really all that great for the human brain (or the rest of the body).
Even the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) notes that aluminum can elicit negative effects in the musculoskeletal, neurological, and respiratory systems. This is especially worrisome because some research indicates that aluminum is capable of building up in bodily tissues, which would greatly increase its potential to cause harm.
Research has suggested that there may be a link between aluminum exposure and Alzheimer’s disease for several years. That link, however, has always been somewhat murky. The evidence to support their claims has often been lacking. Recently, however, scientists have found a direct link between the metal and the onset of the neurological disorder.
– Connecting the dots: aluminum and Alzheimer’s –
According to scientists from Keele University, located in Staffordshire, aluminum actually plays a role in most — if not all– cases of Alzheimer’s. Professor Exley, a scientist from the university, has been studying this connection at length. In a recent article for The Hippocratic Post, Exley explained, “We already know that the aluminium content of brain tissue in late-onset or sporadic Alzheimer’s disease is significantly higher than is found in age-matched controls. So, individuals who develop Alzheimer’s disease in their late sixties and older also accumulate more aluminium in their brain tissue than individuals of the same age without the disease.”
Exley went on to say that even higher levels of aluminum have been found in individuals with certain forms of Alzheimer’s disease and notes that these high amounts of exposure are often attributed to the environment these people live in, or their workplace. “This means that Alzheimer’s disease has a much earlier age of onset, for example, fifties or early sixties, in individuals who have been exposed to unusually high levels of aluminium in their everyday lives,” contends Exley.
– High aluminum content in Alzheimer’s patients –
In 2016, Exley published his most revealing study yet in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology. This study is believed to be of exceptional value because it is the first to measure aluminum content in the brain tissue of individuals that have been diagnosed with familial Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s is considered to be “familial” when two or more people in the same family are stricken by the condition.
Exley and his team found that people who had passed away with diagnosed familial Alzheimer’s disease had the highest concentrations of aluminum in their brain tissue that had ever been recorded.
“We now show that some of the highest levels of aluminium ever measured in human brain tissue are found in individuals who have died with a diagnosis of familial Alzheimer’s disease,” Exley wrote. He went on to note that the amount of aluminum found in the brain tissue of the individuals with familial Alzheimer’s disease were almost identical to those seen in individuals who died of aluminum-induced encephalopathy while undergoing renal dialysis.
Exley and his team concluded that their research indicates that the genetic predisposition for Alzheimer’s disease is likely tied to the accumulation of aluminum in brain tissue. The researchers note that aging is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s and that the human brain tends to accumulate more aluminum as we get older. Because of aluminum’s neurotoxic effects, its accumulation in brain is going to exacerbate or contribute to any ongoing disease or toxicity.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD), also known as just Alzheimer’s, is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and gets worse over time. It is the cause of 60% to 70% of cases of dementia. The most common early symptom is difficulty in remembering recent events (short-term memory loss). As the disease advances, symptoms can include problems with language, disorientation (including easily getting lost), mood swings, loss of motivation, not managing self care, and behavioural issues. As a person’s condition declines, they often withdraw from family and society. Gradually, bodily functions are lost, ultimately leading to death. Although the speed of progression can vary, the average life expectancy following diagnosis is three to nine years.
The cause of Alzheimer’s disease is poorly understood. About 70% of the risk is believed to be genetic with many genes usually involved. Other risk factors include a history of head injuries, depression, or hypertension. The disease process is associated with plaques and tangles in the brain. A probable diagnosis is based on the history of the illness and cognitive testing with medical imaging and blood tests to rule out other possible causes. Initial symptoms are often mistaken for normal ageing. Examination of brain tissue is needed for a definite diagnosis. Mental and physical exercise, and avoiding obesity may decrease the risk of AD. There are no medications or supplements that decrease risk.
No treatments stop or reverse its progression, though some may temporarily improve symptoms. Affected people increasingly rely on others for assistance, often placing a burden on the caregiver; the pressures can include social, psychological, physical, and economic elements. Exercise programmes may be beneficial with respect to activities of daily living and can potentially improve outcomes. Treatment of behavioural problems or psychosis due to dementia with antipsychotics is common but not usually recommended due to there often being little benefit and an increased risk of early death.
In 2015, there were approximately 48 million people worldwide with AD. It most often begins in people over 65 years of age, although 4% to 5% of cases are early-onset Alzheimer’s which begin before this. It affects about 6% of people 65 years and older. In 2010, dementia resulted in about 486,000 deaths. It was first described by, and later named after, German psychiatrist and pathologist Alois Alzheimer in 1906. In developed countries, AD is one of the most financially costly diseases
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