Exploring Aluminum’s Toxicity and Potential Connection to Autism

Were you to take a public opinion poll based on the question “Is aluminum safe?” you’d probably receive a potpourri of answers. As the Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute notes, despite the fact that aluminum has been proven to be toxic to humans, its toxicity has been largely downplayed; in turn, potential side effects from exposure via common household items, medications, and more have not been the focus of much scientific research. However, in a paper that explores the environmental and genetic etiologies of autism, researchers C.A. Shaw, S. Sheth, D. Li, and L. Tomljenovic further explore the nature of aluminum’s toxicity, as well as its role in neurodevelopmental disorders. Here’s what they’ve found.

Aluminum Negatively Affects our Central Nervous System

An abundance of studies have proven exposure to aluminum can disrupt function of the central nervous system by causing shortcomings in learning, memory, psychomotor control, speech, and behavior. Aluminum’s effect on the central nervous system was first reported by William Geis, and his findings have since been confirmed in a number of studies throughout the 20th century. With this foundational understanding of aluminum’s toxicity, Shaw et al. were interested in learning how different forms of exposure, specifically exposure through ingestion or injection, affect the severity of CNS dysfunction. They discovered that only about 0.25 percent of aluminum is absorbed into the blood stream (and therefore able to disrupt the CNS) when ingested through food, yet aluminum injected into muscle tissue is absorbed into the blood stream at nearly 100 percent. Unfortunately, the aluminum adjuvant Al hydroxide is commonly found in routinely administered vaccines, vaccines which have become more frequently administered to young children in recent years. Not only can injected aluminum find its way into our bloodstream, it can collect in other organs throughout the body. What’s more, because it can resist kidney excretion and breakdown by enzymes, aluminum has the ability to stay in the body for up to 10 years.

Animal studies have proven that aluminum adjuvants also disrupt immune responses, suggesting they affect the body’s immune system and CNS in an interconnected manner.  Though animal trials have been the most extensive area of study concerning the effects of aluminum adjuvants, a human study has also revealed that exposure to aluminum adjuvants has caused Macrophagic Myofasciitis, neuromuscular disorder that predominantly appeared in women who had received between 1 and 17 vaccine administrations containing Al hydroxide.

Aluminum Adjuvants Maintain a Highly Probable Link to Autism

The autism spectrum disorder is defined by neurological and immune system deficiencies, both of which aluminum adjuvants have been proven to impede the function of. Aluminum is also a known toxin to blood brain barriers, and a growing body of evidence strongly suggests that disruption of the blood brain barrier is the primary cause of CNS-immuno deficiencies in individuals with autism. What makes this area of research even more compelling is the discovery that the immune system and the CNS are more intertwined than previously thought; in fact, a significant amount of communication occurs between these two regulatory systems, and researchers have found that stimuli to the immune system can affect this communication, and subsequently affect CNS performance. For example, it’s been shown that sustained immune stimuli can cause the types of proinflammatory responses that trigger CNS abnormalities.

In their study of autism populations in 7 Western nations, Shaw et al. found a significant correlation between the extent of Al adjuvant exposure and autism rates. To further support their findings that aluminum maintains a link to autism, Shaw et al. also conducted a study that exposed outbred mice to aluminum adjuvants based on common vaccination schedules. They found that exposure resulted in long-lasting, heightened anxious behaviors, and that mice that were placed on a more frequent exposure schedule subsequently demonstrated more prominent anxious behaviors.

Research by Seneff et al. also supports a potential causal relationship between aluminum and autism, as Seneff et al.’s work found that after 2000, when aluminum’s burden in vaccines was increased, more reports of seizures, fatigue, pain and cellulitis were reported from individuals with autism. Each of these symptoms is strongly associated with vaccines that contain aluminum. It’s also been found that autistic individuals have higher-than-average concentrations of aluminum in their blood serum.