24 May 2006
Scientists at Keele University in Staffordshire have found that drinking a well-known mineral water regularly could reduce the levels of aluminium in the bodies of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Ten individuals with Alzheimer’s were asked to drink up to 1.5L per day of the mineral water, Volvic, for five days as part of their everyday diets. For eight out of ten it resulted in a reduction in their body burden of aluminium.
There is a link between human exposure to aluminium and the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. The objective of the research was to demonstrate a simple method whereby individuals with Alzheimer’s disease (and indeed healthy individuals) could both limit their absorption of aluminium across the gut and increase their excretion of body aluminium in the urine.
Volvic is a still mineral water containing a high concentration of silicon and the research team believes that it was the silicon (the natural protector against the toxicity of aluminium) in the mineral water which helped to reduce the body burden of aluminium in the individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr Chris Exley, of the Birchall Centre for Inorganic Chemistry and Materials Science, Lennard-Jones Laboratories at Keele, said: “This was a preliminary study involving only ten individuals and was carried out over only five consecutive days. We do not have any information concerning any influence of drinking the mineral water upon the disease itself only that there were no reported negative side effects.”
“A future study is needed to confirm that long term drinking of a silicon-rich mineral water can reduce the body burden of aluminium in Alzheimer’s disease. We shall then be able to determine if concomitant with the reduction in body aluminium there are improvements in the nature and progression of the disease.”
“There is no benefit in accumulating aluminium in our bodies. Anything we can do to reduce its entry and build up in the body can only be beneficial to our health and regular drinking of silicon-rich mineral waters may be a safe and easy way to achieve the lowest possible body burden of aluminium”.
In the only human trial to date to remove aluminium from the body of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, the iron chelator desferrioxamine (DFO) was successfully used to both remove aluminium from the body and slow the rate of progression of the disease. This trial, which was reported in The Lancet in 1991, has not been repeated and that may have been due to the need to inject DFO into the muscle to administer it and side-effects associated with the reaction of DFO with body iron.
Importantly, considering the earlier study using the iron chelator DFO, the new research did not influence body stores of iron and no negative side-effects of drinking the mineral water were reported.
The research has been accepted for publication by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (http://www.j-alz.com/vol10-1) and will appear along with several Commentary articles in a forthcoming issue.