(Editor’s note: In this exclusive interview, leading researcher Harold Foster Ph.D., explains the link between Alzheimer’s disease and aluminum. Foster is a tenured professor who teaches medical geography and disaster planning at the University of Victoria, Canada, and specializes in the prevention of mortality from chronic diseases. He has written extensively about his Alzheimer’s research findings, including a major study published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine.
Alzheimersupport: You specialize in medical geography. How does this assist research of Alzheimer’s disease?
Foster: Medical geography is a branch of geography that studies the significance of location in medicine. Medical geographers seek answers from the environment, rather than from the disease. In Alzheimer’s for example, what first caught my attention was that the disease was more common in regions of highly acidic rain, and in people drinking water that was elevated in aluminum.
Alzheimersupport: How did you become interested in Alzheimer’s research?
Foster: I developed a new way of classifying diseases that involves the identification of disease family trees. This is essentially a geographical way of looking at illnesses that permits me to see links that are not obvious to other researchers. As a result, I can create new causal hypotheses, which I then test by drawing on data from geochemistry, geology, geography, medicine and biochemistry. Over the last 18 months or so, I have published papers on the causes and probable optimum treatments for schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. In total, I have written on the causes of some 70 diseases and longevity.
AlzheimerSupport: What are the main points of your theory linking Alzheimer’s disease to aluminum?
Foster: Aluminum has been known to be a neurotoxin for over 100 years. It has been shown in Norway, England and Wales and Canada that people who drink water that is high in dissolved aluminum are most likely to get Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition, aluminum is being used to make cans and cookware and is included in a wide range of foods and cosmetics. Exposure to aluminum is universal, but how much is absorbed and crosses the blood-brain barrier and how much is excreted depends on the intake, not just of this metal, but also of magnesium, calcium, silicon, phosphorus and zinc.
On reaching the brains of individuals who are deficient in these minerals, aluminum replaces calcium, magnesium, zinc or phosphorus in at least 10 enzymes. As a result, these all malfunction, eventually causing the development of senile plaques, neurofibrillary tangles and granulovascular degeneration that are the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. In short, aluminum causes Alzheimer’s in individuals who are overexposed to it while deficient in the minerals needed to make various enzymes.
AlzheimerSupport: How does the replacement of magnesium by aluminum contribute to Alzheimer’s?
Foster: The evidence suggests that if there is a deficiency of a necessary bulk or trace element, the body will “make do” with a chemically similar element when trying to manufacture an enzyme. Of course, like using the wrong ingredient in a stew, all sorts of problems result from this substitution.
My findings, published in The Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, show this type of substitution is the root cause of Alzheimer’s and is responsible, for example, for the formation of neurofibrillary tangles. I believe that Alzheimer’s is the end product of the aluminum-induced malfunctioning of numerous enzymes and largely occurs in people who have been deficient in magnesium and calcium for many years.
AlzheimerSupport: So how significant is aluminum in Alzheimer’s disease?
Foster:I believe that aluminum is the key causal variable in Alzheimer’s disease. The only exception is in early-onset Alzheimer’s, where genetic weaknesses result in damage to the same enzymes that are caused to malfunction by aluminum in the great majority of cases.
AlzheimerSupport: Do other researchers support the Alzheimer’s-aluminum hypothesis?
Foster: There is nothing new about the hypothesis. The idea has been very strongly supported, for example, by Drs. Donald McLachlan and Theo Kruck at the University of Toronto. They used desferrioxamine to help remove aluminum from the brains of Alzheimer patients, slowing down the rate of deterioration. Kruck believes “Aluminum is a wonderful, useful metal and will always be with us. It’s great for buildings, airplanes and aluminum siding. We just shouldn’t eat it.’
What I have done is put together the pieces of the jigsaw, so that it is virtually impossible to logically deny the big picture that aluminum causes Alzheimer’s disease.
AlzheimerSupport: What is your response to other researchers who dismiss the Aluminum theory?
Foster: It is my view that most chronic degenerative diseases are caused either by vitamin, mineral or other nutrient deficiencies and/or exposure to toxins. This is also true of Alzheimer’s disease. Aluminum toxicity can explain all known risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, namely: malnutrition, susceptibility genes, head trauma, aging and lack of education. In addition, the Alzheimer’s-aluminum theory, if correct, provides a cheap and easy method for disease prevention. There is some evidence that it may also provide a cure.
AlzheimerSupport: What changes would you ideally like to see happen to reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease?
Foster: I believe that the following should be banned:
* the use of aluminum sulfate by water treatment plants.
* the addition of maltol to beer, hot chocolate and commercially baked goods.
* the use of aluminum in cosmetics and cans
* aluminum foil
* aluminum containing deodorants
The following should be encouraged:
* high magnesium and high calcium drinking water
* lowering of the maximum allowable levels for aluminum in water and soft drinks.
* the use of calcium/magnesium supplements and of selenium and vitamins C and E.
Alzheimersupport: What is maltol?
Foster: Maltol is a common food additive that is put into hot chocolate, beer, various other drink mixes and commercial baked goods. It reacts with aluminum to form aluminum maltolate. This compond can cross the blood-brain barrier with great ease, allowing aluminum access to the brain. Researchers Mclachlan and Kruch, for example, showed that maltol increased aluminum uptake by rabbits about ninetyfold, suggesting certain foods containing the additive maltol help transport aluminum to the human brain.
AlzheimerSupport: Any final comments?
Foster: It is my understanding that Alzheimer’s disease is costing the United States $100 billion annually, in addition to the suffering it causes. For a fraction of 1% of this, a facility can be built to test the aluminum theory.