Information about Potential Triggers for Alzheimer's

Other conditions that have been considered possible triggers of Alzheimer's include:

  • immune system malfunctions
  • endocrine (hormonal) disorders
  • slow-acting viruses or bacteria
  • vitamin deficiencies
  • exposure to electromagnetic fields
  • accumulation of metals such as zinc, copper, iron, and aluminum in the body

However, no solid evidence supports an association with any of these factors.

The discovery of larger-than-expected amounts of aluminum in the brains of some people who died of Alzheimer's generated a great deal of publicity a number of years ago. Worried that aluminum might somehow promote the disease, many people threw away cans, cookware, cosmetics, antacids, antiperspirants, and other items containing the metal. However, studies of people exposed to large quantities of aluminum did not reveal an increased risk of dementia.

Most likely, aluminum deposits in brain tissue are a result—not a cause—of the underlying abnormalities associated with Alzheimer's disease. (Incidentally, more aluminum leaches into soft drinks from glass bottles—which contain approximately 1 percent aluminum—than from aluminum cans, which are coated with a thin layer of plastic.)

Publication Review By: Peter V. Rabins, M.D., M.P.H.

Published: 09 Mar 2011

Last Modified: 28 Aug 2015