Bag of aluminum cans

Aluminum is a standard metallic material found in many products in modern society. While aluminum is a known neurotoxin, its publicized health concerns focus on frying pans, its use in deodorants, and as an adjuvant in vaccines that are injected into the body. An area that doesn’t garner as much attention is whether it is safe to drink beverages stored in aluminum cans. Could there be unreported health risks associated with that common practice?

In 1985, twenty years after aluminum cans for drinks were first introduced onto the market, they became the beverage container of choice due to their non-corrosive characteristics and recyclability. The corrosive nature of carbonated beverages made tin cans unsuitable as a long-term storage container.  

In 2018 Global News published an article entitled, “Should you refrain from drinking out of an aluminum can?” that quoted a microbiologist named Jason Tetro who doesn’t believe the health risks are significant for most people.

Unless you’re drinking dozens of cans of soda a day, the likelihood of aluminum exposure is very low. You’re going to get some leaching out but the minimum risk level is about one milligram of aluminum per kilogram per day,” Tetro says. “If I weigh 80 kilograms, I’d have to ingest 80 milligrams of aluminum to have any kind of risk. But the fact is, at best, you’re only going to be ingesting micrograms [of it].

Metric conversions: 80 kg = 176 pounds, 80 milligrams = 0.0028 ounces

Is There a Safe Limit for Aluminum?

In 2010 Shelle-Ann Burrell and Professor Christopher Exley published their findings about the level of aluminum in infant formulas. 

Using the manufacturer’s own guidelines of formula consumption the average daily ingestion of aluminium (aluminum) from infant formulas for a child of 6 months varied from ca 200 to 600 μg (micrograms) of aluminium. Generally ingestion was higher from powdered as compared to ready-made formulas.

Determining the health risk posed by drinking soft drinks, beer, and other beverages in aluminum cans is a challenging endeavor. The best I could find was a 2017 report attributed to a professional blogger and marketing consultant named Brandon Gaille who cited Beverage Digest in reporting that Americans “are now drinking about 450 cans of soda a year…roughly the same amount they did in 1986.

Finally, here are several takeaways from a Children’s Health Defense article entitled, “Why Are More Younger Adults Developing Alzheimer’s and Dementia?”

• In February 2020, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) reported on the growing number of younger American adults diagnosed with early-onset dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

• In analyzing its 2013-2017 data, BCBS uncovered a 200% increase in diagnosed dementia and AD among commercially insured adults between the ages of 30 to 64.

• Estimates suggest that while around 11% of young-onset AD cases (and perhaps 1% of Alzheimer’s cases overall) do have a genetic mutation that runs in families, the bulk of younger Alzheimer’s cases do not have a genetic explanation.

• For some researchers, the strong link between neurodegenerative diseases and dementia points to environmental exposures rather than genetics as likely culprits.

• UK Professor Christopher Exley, one of the world’s foremost aluminum experts, has suggested that aluminum may act as a “catalyst” for earlier-onset AD in people “without concomitant predispositions, genetic or otherwise,” and he proposes viewing AD “as an acute response to chronic intoxication by aluminum.”

References

Burrell, S.M., Exley, C. There is (still) too much aluminium in infant formulas.
BMC Pediatr 10, 63 (2010).
https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2431-10-63

Dr. Christopher Exley: The Systemic Toxicity of Aluminum Adjuvants
One Radio Network hosted by Patrick Timpone
Nov 5, 2013

Why Are More Younger Adults Developing Alzheimer’s and Dementia?
Children’s Health Defense Apr 30, 2020

Should you refrain from drinking out of an aluminum can?
Global News Aug 8, 2018

Why Is Aluminum Used for Soda Cans?
By Angele Sionna

25 Noteworthy Soft Drink Consumption Statistics
Brandon Gaille
May 27, 2017

Is it Safe to Drink out of Aluminum Cans?​
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