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Aluminum and Alzheimer’s Disease

After reading reports linking aluminum with Alzheimer’s disease, I got rid of our aluminum pans and stopped buying aluminum foil. Now I’m wondering whether I should avoid deodorants containing aluminum chlorohydrate. What is your opinion?

There is little support for the theory that aluminum causes Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia. The exact cause of this disease is unknown, although the risk of Alzheimer’s is higher when there is a family history of this disease.

Interest arose in the relationship between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease when certain experimental animals exposed to high aluminum concentrations developed abnormal changes in the brain that seemed to resemble those of Alzheimer’s disease. However, careful study revealed that these changes were actually quite different. High levels of aluminum have been found in the brains of kidney dialysis patients with a rare, serious disorder called dialysis dementia.

Again, these abnormal changes are unlike those of Alzheimer’s disease. Workers exposed to high levels of aluminum in industrial environments have no increased incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, careful studies to date have not shown an increased aluminum concentration in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients. Since there is no convincing evidence linking aluminum toxicity with Alzheimer’s disease, you need not worry about exposure to aluminum in your deodorant or cooking utensils.
Alzheimer’s Disease Testing

I have read about a memory test that can identify Alzheimer’s disease early. How useful is it?

Memory loss is often the most prominent aspect of the general decline in mental abilities known as dementia. There is a common misconception that Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are the same condition. While Alzheimer’s disease does produce a special form of dementia, not all dementia or memory loss is related to this progressive disease. A number of other medical and psychiatric illnesses can produce dementia, which may be arrested or reversed if properly diagnosed and treated. Brief tests of mental ability and memory function can be useful in identifying individuals with Dementia. However, more extensive medical and neuropsychological testing may be required to identify the underlying cause of mental decline. Poor performance on a memory test, which healthy individuals can complete without difficulty, may mean that a more complete evaluation is needed. However, performance on a single memory test is not sufficient or specific enough to distinguish one form of dementia from another.