New research suggests aluminum exposure contributes to dementia, but there is plenty you can do to lower your risk.
Aluminum is one of the most widely used metals in the world. Consider your morning commute: You hop into your car, where you’re protected from the elements by aluminum body panels. You sip your morning coffee from an aluminum travel mug. You arrive at your desk and pry open your laptop’s aluminum case to check your email.
All of this exposure to aluminum, however, may come at a cost. Research suggests that the metal — a known neurotoxin — builds up in the brain over time, contributing to Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.
Writing in a recent issue of The Lancet, neuroscientist Christopher Exley made an impassioned case that the modern Aluminum Age, as he calls it, plays a significant role in neurodegenerative diseases. We overlook these risks because aluminum is so common, Exley argued. But there are several explanations for how aluminum may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. For one, aluminum encourages proteins called amyloids to clump together in the brain, which is a key feature of Alzheimer’s disease. This accumulation may block signals between nerve cells or lead to changes that destroy brain cells.