KARACHI: The aluminium pans and foils, used widely in baking needs, should be avoided because they cause dementia (forgetfulness), according to Dr. Kaneez Fatima Shad, professor of molecular medicine and neuro-physiology at the Dr Panjwani Centre for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research, University of Karachi.
“To avoid the early onset of dementia it is advisable to steer clear of aluminium pans and aluminium foil used in baking,” she told The News. She said that out of Karachi’s population of 15 million, 1.5 million are suffering from mental disorders, mainly dementia.
Dementia is defined as the loss of mental processing ability, which includes communication, abstract thinking, judgment and physical abilities, to the extent that it interferes with daily living.
Symptoms of dementia include short-term memory loss, long-term memory loss, lowered motivation, forgetting to turn off ovens, lock doors and other “automatic” responses, personality changes, mood changes, difficulties with money and math, disorientation and becoming lost or disorientated in familiar surroundings.
“I would suggest that people avoid aluminium as much as they can and grill or bake their food in Pyrex or corning ware,” she said. “It is also beneficial to avoid serving citrus juices in crystal glasses which contain excessive lead and could be chelated by tomato and orange juices,” she went on to say.
Prof Fatima made a presentation on “How Aluminium Fluoride causes Dementia” in October this year at a conference organised by the Society for Neuroscience in Atlanta, USA, the world’s largest and most influential yearly gathering of neuroscientists.
“The most important environmental factor is aluminium fluoride. Aluminium is present in drinking water and fluoride is present in tea, toothpaste, etc. These chemicals are not so harmful by themselves but, when combined, they mimic g-phosphate at its transition state in Ga protein and is therefore able to inhibit its GTPase activity and results in dementia,” she said.
“The take-home message is that we are constantly producing the complexes of aluminium and fluoride during our day-to-day activities,” she said. “For example, boiling fluoridated tap water in an aluminium pan extracts almost 200 ppm (about 2mg/litre) of aluminium into the water in 10 minutes. Leaching of up to 600ppm occurs with prolonged boiling,” she said.
She further elaborated, saying, “Different releases of aluminium depend upon the composition of the pan and the type of food being cooked — sour food leaches more aluminium compared to non-sour food.”
She said, “The simplest daily routine such as wrapping and baking of our food in aluminium (such as tomato and lemon) is another way of bringing ourselves to dementia. Daily routines such as baking fish along with tomato and lemon wrapped in aluminium foil makes the food more hazardous. You are inducing neuro-toxins such as aluminium fluoride in the system.”
Prof. Fatima who earned her PhD from the University of New South Wales, Australia, and a diploma in psychiatry from the University of Newcastle, Australia, said in her paper that her initial studies indicated that there are significant neuro pathological effects when the hippocampus (part of brain which is associated with emotions and memory especially short-term memory) and cortex (main commanding part of brain) tissue cultured neurons were incubated with different concentrations of Aluminium Fluoride and Sodium Fluoride.
She said these findings are new and interesting because they support a hypothesis indicating that fluoride and aluminium are involved in the early onset of forgetfulness (dementia). Fluoride is widely used in toothpaste, tea and other processed food and added in drinking water all over the world. Fluoride is added in toothpastes and drinking water to reduce dental cavities. Toothpaste also contains a significant quantity of aluminium and its bio availability may be enhanced by combining it with fluorine to form aluminium fluoride.