From the HBD Archive
From: hplabs!utah-cs!cs.utexas.edu!raven!rcd (Dick Dunn)
Subject: dangers (or not?) of aluminum
Date: 1989-05-29 04:52:14 GMT

from a few issues back...
> > The major reason (that I have heard) that people advise against using
> > aluminum is that large quantities of it in the brain are linked with
> > Alzheimer's disease.
and a.e.mossberg wrote...
> As for aluminium, while the link has been rumoured for years, only recently
> has data been available showing a correlation with high brain levels of
> aluminium and senile dementia/alzheimer's, and the legal machinery moves
> slowly and laboriously.

Perhaps some folks are worrying about this a lot, and it seems well estab-
lished that there's a high correlation between excess aluminum in the
brain and Alzheimer's. However, (unless it's been recent) there isn't a
known causal relationship here. That is, the aluminum may be the cause of
Alzheimer's, or it may show up there for some other reason. (For example,
something else could be causing both Alzheimer's and accumulation of alumi-
num in the brain. I'm not saying that's the case; I'm just pointing out
that while all you have is correlation and not causality, it's possible.)

There are at least two other questions to be answered before we decide that
aluminum pots are a problem: First, does the aluminum really leach out of
the pots? The answer is at least "usually not" because the surface of the
pot is really aluminum oxide, which is pretty tough even if the metal
underneath is soft. You have to have something strong enough to pull the
oxide off the surface and into solution. Second, once you get an aluminum
compound of some sort in solution in food, is there a mechanism for absorb-
ing it into the body, transporting it to the brain, and keeping it there?

I don't know whether wort will peel off any significant layer; I've never
tried it. Anyone ever tried using an aluminum pot for the boil and found
that it cleaned the pot?

> > There is another reason to avoid the aluminum boiling vessel besides
> > the obvious health risk. Aluminum imparts a nasty flavour to most
> > anything cooked in it...

I have to object to this one; it's just far too strong. There are things
you can cook in aluminum pots which might pick up an objectionable flavor,
but not "anything". Lots of very good cooks and fine restaurants use
aluminum successfully for lots of good food...I'd stay away from highly
acid foods, but that may be superstition.

But I'll confess that I don't use aluminum for either my brewing or my
chili. I bought a 21-qt stainless pot many years ago, rationalizing the
expense by being able to use it for both beer and chili (not
simultaneously:-).
---
Dick Dunn {ncar;ico;stcvax}!raven!rcd (303)494-0965
or rcd@raven.uucp

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