Scientist Replies to Aluminum Industry’s and Medical Industry’s False and Misleading Claims of Aluminum Safety
Aluminum.org is a pro-aluminum industry website. It even lists an Aluminum Caucus. This month, I decided to look into their list of “myths” about the safety of aluminum product they promote to see if their claims pass the proof-by-Pubmed test.
“Myth” #1: Exposure to aluminum causes Alzheimer’s Disease
Aluminum.org Claim: “Aluminum is not linked to Alzheimer’s disease, the cause (or causes) of which is unknown. In the words of the Alzheimer’s Association, ‘The research community is generally convinced that aluminum is not a key risk factor in developing Alzheimer’s disease.’
The World Health Organization has also concluded that “there is no evidence to support a primary causative role of aluminium in Alzheimer’s disease.’”
JLW’S ANALYSIS: It is highly odd to see the Alzheimer’s Association and the World Health Organization describing a type of consensus that there is no role for aluminum as a primary cause in Alzheimer’s disease for one simple fact: amyloid, the gunk that gums up the brain in Alzheimer’s dementia, is part aluminum. In fact, this has been known since 1985 .
…when the substance IS the condition, no level of epidemiological evidence will overrule the direct finding of the substance at the site of the disease manifestation.
So why and how could these organizations claim that aluminum does not play a primary causal role? The most likely explanation is the use of incorrect science and/or focus on the incorrect level of evidence. When a substance is co-localized to the site of condition, that’s pretty strong evidence that is play some role in the process – even if it is an inhibitory role, it’s still a role. But when the substance IS the condition, no level of epidemiological evidence will overrule the direct finding of the substance at the site of the disease manifestation.
Examples include asbestos and various lung conditions. Asbestos fibers are extremely small; the most dangerous are <2 microns. When you breathe asbestos fiber in, the fibers remain in lung tissue for a long time and cause scarring and inflammation, leading to pleural plaques, widespread pleural thickening, pleural effusion, asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma .
Another example is the CDC’s use of the finding of the Zika virus in one brain of an aborted fetus with microcephaly to conclude that the Zika virus induces microcephaly. Dr. Anthony Fauci of US NIAID proclaimed that the finding was the “strongest evidence yet” that Zika was the cause of microcephaly in Brazil in 2015. However, oddly, although the incidence of Zika infection in Brazil increased with the mosquito season in 2016, there was no corresponding uptick in microcephaly – and no study was conducted to seek a role of the use of whole cell pertussis vaccination in the slums of Northeast Brazil where the microcephaly outbreak peaked. So, evidence at multiple levels should be considered in the assessment of causality.
Amyloid is, of course, universally recognized as key deposit in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s disease. But what many people do not realize is that amyloid is produced in the bones, and as people age, their bone density reduces, and amyloid can be released. When it deposits in the brain, the compound (which is part aluminum), can lead to cerebral amyloid angiopathy, a condition in which blood vessels in the brain become coated and clogged with amyloid. This can lead to strokes and contributes to age-related dementia. So healthy bones are very important to reducing the amount of amyloid, and therefore aluminum, in the brain. Medium weight training is required as people age to keep bones strong.
The symptoms of severe acute aluminum exposure include cell death, meningitis, and dementia.
When aluminum itself enters the brain (and there is zero doubt that occurs [3-5]), it can have numerous effects. One, of course, is to serve as a building block by combining with amyloid precursor protein. Aluminum can also have nefarious influences on a brain cell’s ability to fold proteins properly, lead to disease condition in which cellular necrosis (seepage of oddly, improperly shaped proteins) can occur, wreaking havoc with intercellular signaling. The inflammasome can be activated, leading to the recruitment of intrinsic immunity cellular responses (including microglial activation). It causes the release of cytokines, especially IL-6, which make the brain’s innate immune cells act as if nearby cells are under viral attack. The symptoms of severe acute aluminum exposure include cell death, meningitis, and dementia. Vaccine Papers has a good resource for studies on the effects of various forms of aluminum .
“Myth” #2: Aluminum present as an active ingredient in some antiperspirants leads to breast cancer.
Aluminum.org Claim: “Aluminum is not, nor has it ever been, classified as a carcinogen. Further, there is no convincing scientific evidence that aluminum-based antiperspirant use contributes to the development of breast cancer. Less than 0.02% of aluminum in contact with skin is taken up by the body, the rest being excreted in a very short time.”
“The American Cancer Society states “There are no strong epidemiologic studies in the medical literature that link breast cancer risk and antiperspirant use, and very little scientific evidence to support this claim. In fact, a carefully designed epidemiologic study of this issue published in 2002 compared 813 women with breast cancer and 793 women without the disease. The researchers found no link between breast cancer risk and antiperspirant use, deodorant use, or underarm shaving.’”
JLW ANALYSIS: A study by Linhart et al. (2017) found that the use of aluminum-containing deodorant increased both aluminum content in breast tissue and breast cancer risk, confirming studies from as early as 2003 (McGrath 2003) . A growing number of studies show that mammary epithelial cells cultured accumulate mutations when exposed to aluminum . While the epidemiological literature is divided, it is surprising to see Aluminum.org provide only the single study that found no link, while two other studies, including one that pre-dated the study they did cite, do report increased tissue burden and increased risk of breast cancer.
Aluminum is becoming so ubiquitous that single source safety considerations are now obsolete.
“Myth” #3: Consuming aluminum in antacid pills can cause health problems.
Aluminum.org Claim: “Aluminum is poorly absorbed by the body. This means that most (at least 99.9%) of aluminum ingested from food and water merely passes through the digestive tract and out of the body. Several studies have found no adverse effects for those who have ingested even large quantities of aluminum-containing antacids from antacids…
Additional reassurance regarding aluminum’s safety can be derived from the fact that frequent users of oral antacids may consume very high quantities of aluminum (e.g. up to 1000 mg/day), several orders of magnitude higher than the intake from ordinary food and water intake, yet no adverse health effects have been demonstrated…
The Center for Disease Control’s Agency for Toxic Substance & Disease Registry notes, ‘An extremely small amount of the aluminum found in antacids [is] absorbed [through ingestion].’ And further, ‘The FDA has determined that aluminum used as food additives and medicinals such as antacids are generally safe.’”
JLW Analysis: Now this is interesting, because Paul Offit of Children’s Hospital says that we get “far more” aluminum from diet than from vaccines. But we will come back that.
Aluminum.org is correct to say we absorb a tiny fraction of the aluminum we ingest. However, any dietary aluminum from one source has a cumulative effect from dietary aluminum from any other source. So, for example, cooking rhubarb in aluminum foil will lead to very high levels of ingested aluminum. Following that up with an antacid that contains aluminum adds to the total. Taking pills that contain aluminum in a carrier base also increases the dose. And then taking aluminum-containing vaccines at the same time increases the total aluminum compound dose even further. Aluminum is becoming so ubiquitous that single source safety considerations are now obsolete.
For a given day, a one-time exposure is probably not a concern for 130-lb woman or 1 180 lb-man. But in children, it’s a different story. Why? Body weight determines the toxicity of a dose. And while ATSDR looked at the effects of dietary aluminum, it is incorrect to say that studies found no ill effects. One key study (Golub et al., 1989)  in fact did report food intake problems (cyclic food intake, indicative of exposure to a toxin, or poison), in spite of being represented by the FDA as not finding any adverse reactions. Numerous other studies also showed that dietary forms of aluminum have adverse events (see accumulated list ).
The primary concern over aluminum toxicity are its whole-body accumulation, and its synergistic effect on the toxicity of other toxic chemicals in our environment – such as fluoride. A study by Kaur et al. in 2009  found alterations in the neurotransmitters (e.g., dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin) due to fluoride in rats, and that the changes were more pronounced in animals given fluoride and aluminum together. They reported that histological evidence showed “deprivation of neuronal integrity with higher magnitude in concurrent fluoride and aluminum exposure, as compared to fluoride alone” and they concluded that aluminum appears to enhance the neurotoxic hazards caused by fluoride.
“Myth” #4: It is dangerous to cook with aluminum pots and pans.
Aluminum.org Claim: “The Food and Drug Administration studied this issue in the early 1980s and reported no safety concerns from using aluminum cookware. More recently, the Center for Disease Control’s Agency for Toxic Substance & Disease Registry reported that ‘foods cooked in aluminum pots are generally considered to be safe.’
An independent study by America’s Test Kitchen in 2012 found that “In lab tests … tomato sauce … cooked in an aluminum pot for two hours and then stored in the same pot overnight was found to contain only .0024 milligrams of aluminum per cup.” For the sake of comparison, according to the FDA, ‘the daily aluminum intake for man from all dietary sources can range from 10 to 100 mg per day.’ Consumption at this level is considered safe.”
JLW Analysis: The category “GRAS” is an archaic category based on no science, but rather a general assumption of safety applied to food additives based on information available prior to the 1960s (and before). As we know, we are living in an increasingly toxic environment; we do not live on our grandparent’s planet. But even absent concern with low doses of aluminum from pots and pans, any amount is cumulative to aluminum from other exposures. Since there are alternative materials, why take on further risk given that aluminum is becoming so ubiquitous?
Offspring showed growth retardation and somewhat delayed neurobehavioural development, which was consistent with maternal toxicity…
“Myth” #5: The aluminum salts used to clean municipal drinking water pose a danger to human health.
Aluminum.org Claim: “Virtually every municipal water purification system in the world uses aluminum salts to remove impurities and provide safe, healthy and accessible drinking water. The global public health benefits enabled by these systems are numerous and have prevented innumerable water-borne diseases.
Health Canada spent 10 years and millions of dollars studying this issue and concluded: ‘There is no consistent, convincing evidence that aluminum in drinking water causes adverse health effects in humans, and aluminum does not affect the acceptance of drinking water by consumers or interfere with practices for supplying good water.’”
JLW Analysis: Here we have a clearly misleading effort to cherry-pick not just from the scientific literature. The same report cited by Aluminum.org also reported:
“An increase in pre-weaning mortality and a delay in weight gain and neuromotor development in surviving pups were reported in the offspring of albino Wistar rats given oral doses (in the diet) of aluminum chloride (equivalent to about 155 and 192 mg Al/kg bw per day) from day 8 of gestation through parturition… Neurotoxicity and weight loss were also reported in mouse dams fed a diet containing aluminum lactate at 500 or 1000 ppm from day 0 of gestation to day 21 postpartum.
Offspring showed growth retardation and somewhat delayed neurobehavioural development, which was consistent with maternal toxicity…
In a study in which pregnant rats were exposed to a 20% solution of Maalox (a stomach antacid) in tap water (approximately 3.2 mg Al/mL) from the second day of gestation, Anderson et al.205 found that offspring of aluminum-exposed dams showed significantly more aggressive responses, although the time spent on each aggressive response was less than in controls. Furthermore, the offspring of aluminum-exposed mothers showed a significantly longer latency period in the escape-training phase following a three-day period of exposure to non-avoidable shocks.
The report cited by Aluminum.org also included:
“Several epidemiological studies have reported a small increased relative risk of AD associated with high aluminum concentrations in drinking water… All these studies have methodological weaknesses, but a true association between high aluminum concentrations in drinking water and dementia (including AD) cannot be ruled out, especially for the most elderly (e.g., over 75)…
According to a review by Doll… the evidence from several epidemiological, clinical and experimental studies suggests that aluminum is neurotoxic in humans but does not suggest that it causes AD. However, Doll… stressed that the possibility that aluminum does cause AD must be kept open until the uncertainty about the neuropathological evidence is resolved.
Aluminum in water can easily be avoided by consuming silica-rich mineral water, which is purported to help reduce total body burden of aluminum 
On Day 1 of life, infants receive 17 times more aluminum than would be allowed if doses were adjusted per body weight.
“Myth” #6: Aluminum contained in certain vaccines make them unsafe.
Aluminum.org Claim: “Aluminum salts have been used to improve the immune system’s response to vaccines for more than 70 years. Most of the small amount of aluminum used in the vaccinations is quickly expelled by the body. About half of the aluminum is gone in 24 hours; three-quarters is eliminated in two weeks and virtually all of it disappears within three years.”
“There are recent reports of a neurologic disease called macrophagic myofasciitis (MMF) suspected to be caused by injections of aluminum-containing vaccines. The role of aluminum in the mechanism of this disorder is unclear. The only known undesirable effects that are attributable directly to aluminium salts contained in vaccines are possible local inflammatory reactions, which in some cases are due to the speed of the injection of the vaccine or to insufficient agitation of the vial.”
“In 2008, the World Health Organization’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) stated: “From the most recent evidence, there is no reason to conclude that a health risk exists as a result of administration of aluminium-containing vaccines. Neither is there any good scientific or clinical basis for recommending any change in vaccination practice.”
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has concluded that the use of aluminum in vaccines is safe.”
JLW Analysis: Here we see the same abuse of logic that was used to argue that ethyl mercury from vaccines cleared quickly: the “gone” that Aluminum.org is referencing here are serum levels; there are precious few studies that examine whole-body elimination rates but Flarend et al.  found only 4.6% of aluminum left the body of rabbits after 28 days.
Calculations of the “safe” levels of aluminum by Mitkus et al. (the US FDA)  were based on myriad flawed assumptions, most importantly the use of dietary aluminum vs. injected vaccine forms of aluminum, on adult mice (instead of infant mice) to assess the safety of aluminum for use as injected forms in infant humans. But even then, we now know that their actual calculations were flawed exercises in a shell game: divide doses into three body compartments, use serum clearance rather than whole body clearance, and divide exposure by 365 days… and then the numbers look safe. We don’t need the numbers to just look safe. We need to know the safe levels of doses of injectable forms of aluminum using dose escalation studies. This was the conclusion of an extensive and careful IPAK analysis  which found these and other flaws and concluded that:
“On Day 1 of life, infants receive 17 times more aluminum than would be allowed if doses were adjusted per body weight.”
Regarding aluminum from vaccines and diet, Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia offers health care consumers a video on the webpage featuring Dr. Paul Offit, a CHOP employee claiming (quite incorrectly for infants up to six months of age) that we get far more aluminum from food and water, and anything made of water, than we would ever get from vaccines.
Again, IPAK’s analysis shows, considering body weight, that the information published on the CHOP website is incorrect, and, like Aluminum.org, is misleading consumers into a false sense of safety. This finding is consistent with that of Dorea and Marques .
IPAK Calculated Accumulations of Aluminum in Humans by Source. See report  for details and additional results. (mcg/kg = micrograms per kilogram cumulative body burden.)
Parents are being tricked by the CHOP website into bringing their infants to be exposed – repeatedly – to acute toxic doses of injected aluminum to accept a medical procedure and pharmaceutical product that is only assumed to be safe – not shown to be safe by science.
Studies now exist that show that aluminum is found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, autism, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease – and studies exist that show that safe removal of aluminum via chelation is effective in reducing the symptoms of these and other conditions (19). The consumption of silica-rich mineral waters was found to increase urinary excretion of aluminum from patients with Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS) (20). Reversal of a disease by removing a factor proves that factor is a key cause.
Therefore, I believe that both CHOP and Aluminum.org are committing fraudulent false advertising, and one or more class action suits against both should be taken up as soon as possible. The Aluminum.org webpage and the CHOP video spreading false and misleading information on aluminum safety must come down.
James Robert Deal , Attorney & Broker
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