One of the most alarming and controversial hypotheses about the potential risk factors for Alzheimer’s concerns aluminum, which became a suspect when researchers found traces of this metal in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. This is indeed a grave concern because many people use aluminum pots and pans for cooking, and aluminum canteens for drinking in the world.
Many studies since then have either not been able to confirm this finding or have had questionable results. Aluminum does turn up in higher amounts than normal in some autopsy studies of Alzheimer’s patients, but this certainly doesn’t occur in all.
In addition, the aluminum found in some studies may have come from substances used in the laboratory to study the brain tissue after death.
Moreover, various other studies have found that groups of people exposed to high levels of aluminum do not have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. On the whole, scientists can say that it is still very debatable whether exposure to aluminum plays any role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Zinc has been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease in various studies. Some research reports suggest that too little zinc may be a problem, while other studies suggest that too much zinc is an issue.
Too little zinc was suggested by autopsies that found low levels of zinc in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients, especially in the hippocampus, the part of the brain involved in learning and memory. However, other studies suggest that too much zinc might be the problem.
In laboratory experiments, zinc caused the formation of soluble beta amyloid from cerebrospinal fluid to form clumps similar to the plaques seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers. Current experiments with zinc are continuing, with new laboratory tests that closely mimic conditions in the brain.