Everything you need to know about Aluminum Madness
We’ve received some curious social media comments from concerned people who seem to be wary of aluminum. We get it; we’ve all had these questions and concerns at some point. And you know what, we should be questioning everything. So we decided to expose some truths and do what we do best - research and educate on the facts. While we conducted scientific research before choosing the most sustainable, safest bottle, we’ve circled back around to investigate the research that surrounds the aluminum madness myth. We wanted to understand why so many people are scared of aluminum when there are actual dangerous materials that are killing ocean and terrestrial wildlife by the hundreds every day - single-use plastics. Uncovering these truths is essential because it helps everyone make better decisions, based on facts and logic which in turn keeps us and our planet healthier, not at the whim of gimmicks that permit us to keep the same dirty plastic habits.
After objectively studying the data and analyzing many studies, it’s conclusive there are no findings to back any serious accusations against aluminum. What did come to light and what is vital for us all to know is that: aluminum materials are not harmful to eat with, drink from, or cook with, and it does not cause Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Any claims that say differently originate from a place of ill-informed hysteria dating back to the early 1900s. These claims were based on inconclusive evidence, hysteria, greed from opportunistic businesses which profited from marketing a new ‘aluminum-free’ label to worried consumers.
Who knew aluminum was so full of controversy?!
If ever you were curious to know the truth about aluminum, the good, the bad, and the absurd, get ready to learn some interesting factual information. The facts we pulled together are from research and meta-research (research about research), coupled with the history from behind the scenes, and bizarre anti-aluminum marketing campaigns. In addition, we found some wide-reaching publications that profited from running interesting scare-tactic stories on aluminum, which fueled an anti-aluminum movement. This is the backstory on what we call Aluminum Madness - the truth you’ve been searching for, and a play by play of the major historical attacks. Here we go!
Attack #1 The fierce dental crusader
Let us introduce you to a fascinating story of an odd dentist, Charles Truax Betts, who became an obsessed and unstoppable campaigner against aluminum. After suffering from a severe case of gastritis in 1913, Betts’ doctor gave him only three months to live, which forced him to close his dental practice. During this time, Betts truly believed it was aluminum that had poisoned him and was the reason for his shortened lifespan. During the supposed last three months he had to live, he threw away all aluminum in his home-- cooking utensils included. Coincidentally, Betts ended up living well past three months, and after eight months he reopened his dental practice and went back to work in excellent health.
Dr. Betts had made up his mind that aluminum was the reason he came so close to death, and after throwing away all aluminum and metals in his home, he was convinced his unscientific hypothesis was true, he decided that aluminum was deadly. With not one doctor or scientist supporting his assumption, he returned to his dental practice with a fiery purpose: to warn people of the supposed dangers of aluminum. After ridding his home of aluminum and other metals, Betts did the same to his dental office and threw away every metal and aluminum instrument, then went on an aggressive one-person campaign against aluminum. It’s unfortunate that the dentist never took into consideration any changes he may have made to his lifestyle, his diet, or his medicine intake. Betts instead blamed aluminum, with no evidence, whatsoever, and created mass hysteria.
Betts began frantically writing about his unscientific assumptions. He wrote discourses, pamphlets, articles, and more. He wrote daily until finally, two widely read Jehovah's Witnesses publications, The Watchtower, and The Golden Age picked up the campaign and printed his stories. These publications were sold door-to-door and commonly used stories with scare tactics to increase their vast readership, which equaled big profits for the publications. Betts ended up writing more than 130 articles that successfully instilled fear about aluminum, created great public concern, and laid the groundwork for the now persistent myth to live on beyond its abandonment by the science community as false. New ideas for products began to materialize based on this aluminum scare, which paved the way for a new product industry that is still profitable today and can be seen by their “aluminum-free” cooking labels.
Attack #2 One man’s anti-aluminum propaganda campaign spurred a highly profitable “aluminum-free” product market
The Watchtower and The Golden Age publications were not the only groups that profited from Betts’ anti-aluminum mania. The fear-based campaign against aluminum caught the eye of several businesses who saw an opportunity for a profitable industry under the gimmick “aluminum-free” cookware.
Kitchen utensils and cookware companies leveraged this scare tactic to sell cheaper products with higher profits. Companies saw the fear-based opportunity and quickly labeled products “aluminum-free” for marketing campaigns. It was successful, at least for the companies, but not necessarily for the people who were being deterred from a useful, easily reusable, easily recyclable material just so some companies can sell more products. The fear of aluminum is still used today as a marketing tactic, oh, if only aluminum had an attorney…
Attack #3 What is the Aluminum Hypothesis?
The Aluminum Hypothesis is the idea that aluminum exposure is connected to Alzheimer's Disease (AD). This hypothesis came about in 1965 by three scientists, Wisniewski, Terry, and Klatzo, by accidental “discovery.” The three scientists thought they discovered that aluminum salts changed the brains of the rabbits, which showed similarities to the brains of AD sufferers. Wisniewski, Terry, and Klatzo felt they had finally linked aluminum to Alzheimer’s Disease.
What went wrong with the Aluminum Hypothesis?
Although it would have been a significant breakthrough to find the culprit of Alzheimer's Disease (AD), the researchers who were trying to prove the findings in 1965 did not have nearly enough evidence to support their claim.
It’s common practice in scientific research for colleagues to test hypotheses of previous research to validate or invalidate its claims, or to build onto that body of study. This is precisely what happened. Various scientists tested the Aluminum Hypothesis and did not have the same outcomes, thus invalidating the research. Although the initial research on aluminum and rabbit cognitive functioning was deemed false, Wisniewski, Terry, and Klatzo continued to hold on to this failed hypothesis for some time, while the general science community abandoned it. Oh ego, it truly is not our amigo…
- The aluminum salts used on the rabbits did not induce changes similar to Alzheimer’s disease.
- The hypothesis proved to be incorrect since two of the factors (variables) being tested disproved the theory.
- It proved that aging in the brain due to aluminum had no statistical significance.
Yet the aluminum myth still pervades popular opinion so much so that the Alzheimer's Association saw the need to state this MYTH on their Alz.org myths page:
Although there are some reports of elevated aluminum levels in the brains of AD patients, there's still another half of Alzheimer patients that do not have levels of aluminum in their brain, which is just one of the many reasons this theory is unfounded. Some researchers have also tested the hypothesis of aluminum entering the brain and causing AD and if changes caused by AD allow additional aluminum to enter the brain. Both studies were inconclusive.
There is simply no conclusive evidence linking aluminum to the brains of AD patients, and continued research fails to conclude aluminum causes AD. However, it's unfortunate to note that this hypothesis persists, even with contradictory findings from the many ongoing studies.
So why do some people continue to believe this myth about aluminum?
This answer may be more psychologically driven. Theodore I. Lidsky, Ph.D. explains that it is common to see blame be placed on unfounded claims. When science cannot explain how such a scary and debilitating disease such as AD is formed, treated or cured, clinging onto theories such as the Aluminum Hypothesis gives people hope, even if this is just not true. Scientists predict (just like other failed hypotheses) that until the science community knows more about what Alzheimer's Disease is, and how to prevent and treat it, this myth will persist. It is up to us to get educated, understand the truth, and wait for science to catch up.
So, is it safe to drink from aluminum?
Yes, aluminum is safe to drink from, eat from, and cook with, which is why we confidently chose aluminum for our earth-saving reusable bottle. Aluminum, stainless steel, and glass are some of the safest containers we can drink out of. Our bottles also have a BPA free protective liner.
Not only is aluminum safe, but it’s also 100% recyclable, and infinitely reusable, which is an amazing option for us and our precious planet earth. This is why PATHWATER is the best purified bottled water you can buy because you can keep and refill it. We are on a mission to change packaging from the overproduction of single-use plastics to responsible packaging that is safe for people and the planet, which is why we promote reusability as the number one, then recycling as number two. We’re grateful for aluminum. It gives the ability to make better choices as long as we know how to distinguish fact from fiction. Beyond profit and self-interest, we’ve always aimed to source the safest, the most sustainable, people-focused, planet-safe solution to our plastic crisis.