It’s a myth that just won’t seem to go away. Every few months, it resurfaces and alarms hyperhidrosis sufferers and “normal” sweaters alike – can the aluminum salts in antiperspirants lead to Alzheimer’s disease? Many of you have asked us this question so we tracked down answers from experts in the field.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease (which is characterized by the progressive breakdown of a person’s mental abilities) has no known single cause. The rumor that aluminum may cause Alzheimer’s can be traced back to a study done in the 1960s which found abnormally high concentrations of aluminum in the brains of some victims of Alzheimer’s disease. However, “After several decades of research,” says the Alzheimer’s Association, “scientists have been unable to replicate the original 1960s studies showing aluminum deposits in a brain affected by Alzheimer’s.”

In a letter written to USA Today in February 2006, the Alzheimer’s Association stated: “The link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease has never been conclusively proven… The research community is generally convinced that aluminum is not a key risk factor in developing Alzheimer’s disease. Public health bodies sharing this conviction include the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Health Canada.”

To help set consumers’ minds at ease, numerous experts have provided input regarding the Alzheimer-antiperspirant “question”. For example, Dr. Peter Davies, Professor of Alzheimer’s Disease Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine has stated, “Most leading researchers in the field of Alzheimer’s disease think it unlikely that aluminum has any role in the development of the disease.”

Drs. William Pendlebury and Paul Solomon, co-directors of the Memory Disorders Clinic of the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, have said, “At present, aluminum does not appear to play a major

[causative] role in Alzheimer’s disease, and there is no reason to tell people to avoid minor aluminum exposures (antiperspirants, antacids, aluminum cooking utensils).”

Additionally, Mike Thomas, a chemical engineer and the former Team Leader for Procter & Gamble’s antiperspirant and deodorants line, told the International Hyperhidrosis Society, “There is no scientific or medical evidence to suggest that aluminum in products causes Alzheimer’s disease. The FDA has approved aluminum compounds for use in antiperspirants based on an extensive safety database. The materials in Procter & Gamble’s antiperspirants have undergone extensive safety testing and have been proven safe and effective.” (Procter & Gamble is the world’s largest manufacturer of consumer goods including Secret, Gillette, Old Spice, and Sure antiperspirants in North America.)

Instead of worrying about antiperspirants, the Alzheimer’s Association encourages those who are concerned about Alzheimer’s to be proactive and to make lifestyle changes to promote healthy brain aging and to potentially reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. You’ll probably notice that a lot of these head-smart tips sound familiar. That’s because what’s good for the body is also good for the brain.