Research led by scientists at Keele University has suggested that silicon-rich mineral water may improve cognitive decline by clearing aluminium from the body. The study, which adds to the discussion around the link between the metal and Alzheimer’s disease, is published on 12 October in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Previous research has reported traces of aluminium both inside amyloid plaques and tau tangles, two of the key features of Alzheimer’s disease. These findings have led to a discussion among some scientists about potential links between aluminium exposure and the disease.
The scientists investigated this further by asking 15 volunteers with Alzheimer’s to drink silicon-rich mineral water, designed to help clear aluminium from the body. A control group of 14 people, made up of carers and family, also drank the mineral water.
The participants drank up to one litre of silicon-rich mineral water every day for 12 weeks and provided the scientists with weekly urine samples to measure the amount of aluminium being cleared from the body. All participants completed a cognitive test at the beginning of the study and at the end of the 12 week period.
The study found that excretion of silicon in urine increased across the course of the study, and excretion of aluminium also increased for some participants. The results from the cognitive test showed that of the 15 patients with Alzheimer’s, seven showed deterioration in memory during the study, five volunteers maintained the same score and three showed improvements.
Dr Eric Karran, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“This is an incredibly small study and only a few participants appeared to show memory improvements after drinking the silicon-enriched mineral water. The view that aluminium exposure is linked to Alzheimer’s is a controversial hypothesis, which hasn’t gained much support in the past. Previous research has reported aluminium in the brain of some people with Alzheimer’s, but there is no firm evidence that exposure to aluminium could cause the disease.
“We know that Alzheimer’s is a complex disease, and there may be risk factors left to understand. At the moment, we do know that regular exercise, a healthy diet and lifestyle and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check can all help reduce the risk of dementia later in life. Long term research studies with large groups of people are the best way for us to learn about risk factors, and funding for these kinds of studies is vital.”
This material has been published with the kind permission of Alzheimer Research UK.
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