Aluminium may cause multiple sclerosis (MS), new research suggests.
Deceased patients have significantly high levels of the metal in their brains, a study found.
Exposure to aluminium, which is added to vaccines and antiperspirants, is thought to interact with a patient’s genes, causing their immune system to mistakenly attack the layer that surrounds nerves.
Lead author Professor Chris Exley, from Keele University, claims the build up of aluminium in MS sufferers’ brains ‘cannot be ignored’.
The metal has previously been linked to Alzheimer’s, with research suggesting dead patients also have higher levels of the metal in their brains than those without the disease.
Aluminium may cause multiple sclerosis (MS), new research suggests (stock)
WHAT IS MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that affects the brain and spinal cord.
It occurs due to damage of the coating that protects nerves.
Patients’ immune systems break down this coating thinking it is a foreign body.
This leaves scars known as lesions that disrupt chemical messages being sent in the body.
More than 100,000 people are diagnosed with MS in the UK, with 200 news cases coming to light every week in the US.
Symptoms often get worse over time as patients’ nerve coatings deteriorate.
These may include eye problems, reduced balance, fatigue, pain, and pins and needles.
There is no cure.
Treatment focuses on reducing relapses, if patients have them.
Source: MS Society
How the research was carried out
The researchers analysed the brain tissue of 14 deceased MS patients.
The patients were aged between 39 and 82 years old when they died, with eight being female.
The findings were published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
All of the brains had significant aluminium levels
Results suggest the brains of MS patients have unusually high aluminium levels.
Of the brains analysed in the study, around 42 per cent contained more than 0.001mg of aluminium per gram of tissue, while 33 per cent had over 0.002mg, which the researchers described as ‘concerning’.
Each of the study’s 14 participants had at least one sample with a ‘significant content of aluminium’, with 11 having more than 0.005mg per gram and seven over 0.01mg per gram of tissue.
The metal, which appears to accumulate in MS patients regardless of their age or sex, does not build up in any one part of the brain.
The researchers plan to compare aluminum levels in MS patients’ brains to those in people without the condition.
They also point to recent findings suggesting silicon-rich mineral water encourages aluminium to be excreted in urine, which they believe might ease sufferers’ symptoms.
Professor Exley wrote in The Hippocratic Post: ‘While it is too early to confirm a role for human exposure to aluminium in multiple sclerosis, the significant observations of elevated urinary excretion of aluminium in individuals suffering the disease and excessive accumulation of aluminium in brain tissue post mortem suggest it cannot be ignored.’
Exposure to aluminium is thought to interact with a patient’s genes, causing their immune system to mistakenly attack the layer that surrounds nerves (stock)
Chemicals in paint and varnish increase people’s risk of MS
This comes after research released last July suggested chemicals in paint and varnish may increase people’s risk of developing MS.
People who carry genes that make them more at risk of the condition are nearly seven times more likely to develop MS if they are exposed to such solvents, a study by the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, found.
Their risk rises to 30 times greater susceptibility if they also smoke, the research adds.
Even without genes that increase MS risk, exposure to paints and varnishes alone makes people 50 per cent more likely to develop the condition, the study found.
Although unclear why this occurs, previous research suggests shoemakers are at an increased risk of MS due to chemicals in polish affecting their immune systems, which can lead to the disease.