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There is (still) too much aluminium in infant formulas

Shelle-Ann M Burrell and Christopher Exley*

BMC Pediatrics 2010, 10:63  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-10-63

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ignoring 100ys of independent research

Lucija Tomljenovic   (2010-09-23 15:21)  Neural Dynamics Research Group, University of British Columbia email

The regulatory authorities have been successful in their strategy of ignoring independent research, ever since 1911.

“These studies have convinced me that the use in food of aluminium or any other aluminium compound is a dangerous practice. That the aluminium ion is very toxic is well known. That aluminized food yields soluble aluminium compounds to gastric juice (and stomach contents) has been demonstrated. That such soluble aluminium is in part absorbed and carried to all parts of the body by the blood can no longer be doubted. That the organism can "tolerate" such treatment without suffering harmful consequences has not been shown. It is believed that the facts in this paper will give emphasis to my conviction that aluminium should be excluded from food” WJ Gies JAMA 1911;LVII(10):816-821.

It appears that there is no end in cherry picking data either, to support “convenient” viewpoints on controversial issues.

“Most researchers no longer regard aluminum as a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease... At this point, there is no convincing evidence that aluminum increases a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease” Alzheimer’s Society

…whilst the Alzhemier’s Associations regards aluminium’s role in AD as “a myth”

I am assuming that the following literature must have somehow escaped their attention:

1.Banks WA, Kastin AJ (1989) Aluminum-induced neurotoxicity: alterations in membrane function at the blood-brain barrier. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 13, 47-53.

2.Bishop NJ, Morley R, Day JP, Lucas A (1997) Aluminum neurotoxicity in preterm infants receiving intravenous-feeding solutions. N Engl J Med 336, 1557-1561.

3.Exley C (2001) Aluminium and Alzheimer's Disease: The science that describes the link, Elsevier Science, Amsterdam, pp 452.

4.Exley C (1999) A molecular mechanism of aluminium-induced Alzheimer's disease? J Inorg Biochem 76, 133-140.

5.Jope RS, Johnson GV (1992) Neurotoxic effects of dietary aluminium. Ciba Found Symp 169, 254-262; discussion 262-257.

6.Joshi JG (1991) Neurochemical hypothesis: participation by aluminum in producing critical mass of colocalized errors in brain leads to neurological disease. Comp Biochem Physiol C 100, 103-105.

7.Lukiw WJ, Kruck TP, McLachlan DR (1987) Alterations in human linker histone-DNA binding in the presence of aluminum salts in vitro and in Alzheimer's disease. Neurotoxicology 8, 291-301.

8.McLachlan DRC, Bergeron C, Smith JE, Boomer D, Rifat SL (1996) Risk for neuropathologically confirmed Alzheimer's disease and residual aluminum in municipal drinking water employing weighted residential histories. Neurology 46, 401-405.

9.Walton JR (2006) Aluminum in hippocampal neurons from humans with Alzheimer's disease. Neurotoxicology 27, 385-394.

10.Walton JR (2009) Functional impairment in aged rats chronically exposed to human range dietary aluminum equivalents. Neurotoxicology 30, 182-193

11.Yokel RA, Allen DD, Meyer JJ (1994) Studies of aluminum neurobehavioral toxicity in the intact mammal. Cell Mol Neurobiol 14, 791-808.

If the public opinion is swayed towards the idea that aluminium in general is non-toxic, then it is gives a false justification to those (referred to as the alleged “majority of researchers”) who have a vested interest in keeping relevant information away from the eyes of the public.

Competing interests

None other than my interest in aluminium....regardless the outcome


Chris is right

Qiao Niu   (2010-09-16 15:15)  Shanxi Medical University email

I think the concern of Chris and his collegues is reasonable, the problem raised by them is common over the world. I hope it can be taken into consideration, emphosized and resolved by authorities and producers.

Competing interests

No any competing interest


Complacency and Regulation of Aluminium in Food

Chris Exley   (2010-09-15 17:14)  Keele University email

In spite of the clear results and recommendations of our study the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the UK has not made any official comment regarding our findings. The Food Safety Act of 2007 (updated in 2008) specifically states under article 5 that infant formulas should not contain anything which might 'endanger the health of infants and young children'. The Chief Scientist at the FSA, Andrew Wadge, responding to my enquiry on his blog has said that the aluminium content of most infant formulas are within the tolerable weekly limit (TWI) of 1 mg/kg body weight, set by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives,20-29 June 2006, Rome. He concedes that there are no regulatory requirements for aluminium in food. He does not mention that the TWI set by the aforementioned committee is for adults and that this committee concede that the value they have given is simply a best guess. It is not based upon any human studies,adults or children, only laboratory studies on rats and mice. The committee admits that even these sources of information are incomplete.

We carried out and published our investigation of the aluminium content of infant formulas because of our concern for the welfare of infants. We did our best to produce a balanced and non-sensationalised account of the problem and we made some suggestions as to what might happen next. It is clear from the defensive nature of the very few responses from the industry that they do not accept that there is a problem and it would seem that they have the support of the regulatory authority in the UK (FSA) and Europe (EFSA).

We are a world-leading authority on human exposure to aluminium and the consequences for human health and we believe that something has to be done about the aluminium content of infant formulas and, indeed, the aluminium content of food in general. Why is the aluminium content of food not regulated? Why are regulatory authorities such as the FSA using TWIs for aluminium which have little scientific value and absolutely no value with respect to human consumption?
It is clear to us that both the manufacturers of infant formulas and the regulatory authorities are hoping that by remaining silent on this issue that it will very quickly become a non-issue. Are we content to continue to feed our preterm and term infants with high levels of aluminium? Will we have to wait another 20 years for another study to show that the aluminium content of infant formulas are still too high?

Competing interests

None but my curiosity for aluminium and its role in biological systems.


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