Are There Real Dangers In Using Aluminum Cookware

Most people do not give their cookware a second thought and up until the last few years, I didn’t either. Six years ago my wife was diagnosed with Parkinson ‘s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that impairs motor skills, cognitive processes, and other functions. PD is the most common cause of chronic progressive syndrome characterized by tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia and postural instability. Among non motor symptoms are autonomic dysfunction and sensory and sleep difficulties. Cognitive and neurobehavioral problems, including dementia, are common in the advanced stages of the disease.

A diagnosis like that can cause a lot of things to change in your life. There is no cure for Parkinson’s and the treatment is one of masking or limiting the symptoms as much as possible. It is also a progressive disease that moves at different rates in each person.

Few things are known for sure about Parkinson’s but the general feeling is that some people are more genetically prone to get the disease than others and that the environment is the trigger. As they say, “Genetics loads the gun and the environment pulls the trigger.”

Possible environmental causes or triggers tend to skew towards the absorption of metals and pesticides in the body. Is this the cause? No probably not, but it may be factor worth considering. At this stage of the game, I am looking for ways to slow the problem, not compound it. So when I heard that aluminum cookware may leach aluminum into the food I took notice and did a little research.

I found that the first stamped and cast aluminum cookware was manufactured in 1892 by a company in Pittsburgh which later became known as ALCOA. Believe it or not, it was not a big hit. In fact it was not well received at all because of quality concerns. I was surprised to learn that it took over 50 years before aluminum pots and pans actually gained acceptance with the general public.

Of course today, the concerns raised are not about quality, they are medical concerns. The main worry is that toxic levels of aluminum could be absorbed into the body when cooking with the metal, possibly even causing Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

That’s a pretty strong concern to have and my research shows that cookware is not the only exposure to aluminum that we have on a daily basis. In fact to be fair, it’s almost impossible to avoid it in the environment. It is the third most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and can be found in our air and water. It is also found in medicines, deodorants and, of course, in aluminum cookware. Scientists that measure such things tell us that the average person intakes anywhere from 3 to 50 mg of aluminum each day. Those of us lucky enough to also use aluminum cookware can expect to ingest an additional 3 to 6 mg each time they cook with the pots and pans.

So exactly what do we know about metals and the human body? Well obviously the aluminum is toxic in excessive amounts. For example, the intake of too much aluminum might impair the kidneys, which excrete the metal. Toxic levels of aluminum have also been linked to anemia, decreased liver function, poor coordination, calcium deficiency and memory loss among other health issues.

Although both are serious neurological diseases, Alzheimer’s is a much better known disease than Parkinson’s and therefore one of the biggest worries of our aging population is that using aluminum pots and pans might cause Alzheimer’s. The facts are, that researchers conducting autopsies on many, but not all, Alzheimer’s patients discovered higher levels of aluminum in their brains.

The facts are that there is no definitive proof that aluminum is the smoking gun or even a contributor to Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s and the FDA says it’s safe. To top that off, it’s lightweight, low-priced and a great heat conductor and Aluminum can be found in about half of manufactured cookware today.

So why have I decided to opt out and avoid aluminum cookware? Here are my reasons:



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