International Health News

Aluminum and Alzheimer's disease

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK. There has long been concern that a high intake of aluminum is associated with an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease (AD). Research so far has focused on the effect of drinking water which may contain from 0.1 to 0.2 mg of aluminum per liter. Studies have shown that drinking aluminum-contaminated water may double AD risk. Now researchers at the State University of New York provide convincing evidence that aluminum-containing foods constitute a much greater risk than does drinking water. Their study involved 23 patients (average age of 73 years) with newly diagnosed AD. The patients were matched for sex and age with controls without AD. The participants' intake of aluminum-containing foods over the previous five years was determined through interviews with the participants' spouses or daughters. The researchers found that people who consumed aluminum-containing foods on a regular basis had double the risk of AD than did people who did not consume such foods on a regular basis. Adjusting for body mass index, daily energy intake, education, and intake of vitamins A, C and E yielded an odds ratio of 8.6, ie. an 8.6-fold increase in risk. Storing, baking or cooking food in aluminum containers was associated with a 32-fold increase in adjusted risk whereas consumption of chocolate pudding, chocolate milk shake or hot chocolate was associated with a 78-fold increase in risk. Other foods associated with a very substantial increase in the risk of developing AD were pancakes, waffles, biscuits, muffins, cornbread, corn tortillas, doughnuts, cookies, American cheese, salt, and chewing gum. The culprit in baked products is probably alum baking powder, but other aluminum compounds are used extensively in processed foods. The researchers conclude that aluminum-containing foods could be a major factor in the Alzheimer's "epidemic" and urge large scale studies.
Rogers, Mary A.M. and Simon, David G. A preliminary study of dietary aluminium intake and risk of Alzheimer's disease. Age and Ageing, Vol. 28, March 1999, pp. 205- 09

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