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Aluminum Cans: Friend or Foe?

Larry Plesent

A concerned reader wrote in with questions about food and beverage cans. Are aluminum cans an Alzheimer’s risk factor? And are there natural protective measures we can take to lower our risk factors for this and other neuro-degenerative diseases?

Do metal cans increase the risk of Alzheimer’s? Probably not. Nearly all food and beverage cans are coated, inside and out, preventing contact between metal and food. A small percentage of uncoated cans are still in use for lightly acidic fruits such as canned peaches or pineapple chunks in syrup. It seems the tin coating absorbs oxygen quickly and discolors before the syrup and fruit so your dessert looks fresher. Pretty much everything else has a plastic coating. Even the aluminum and magnesium lids of pop top cans are often coated from the varnish used to keep ink from running on the surface of the printed can.

Alzheimer’s is a disease where one’s own body secretes a mixture of proteins and metals (for our purposes here, let’s call it brain goo) outside and on top of the brain. This brain goo or plaque then proceeds to destroy brain tissue, reducing us to a much simpler version of ourselves. Scientists analyzing the brains of Alzheimer’s patients have found a definitive link between certain common metals and the toxic, brain destroying goo.

Technology marches on and thanks to improvements brought to us by the 2015 smart phone technology revolution, we can now measure these metals with greater accuracy than ever before. The results are somewhat unexpected and may one day offer more treatment options.

Although two earlier studies showed traces of aluminum in two Alzheimer’s brains, newer, larger studies done with today’s more sensitive instruments have yielded different results. While aluminum exposure may be implicated in a small number of cases, the primary metals found in the goo were iron, copper, and to a lesser extent zinc. When these commonly used metals were further analyzed, it was found most of the metal content in the goo came from magnetic iron. Magnetic brain goo is directly linked to the destruction of brain tissue and disruption of the electro-chemical processes the brain uses to function normally.

The metal and Alzheimer’s link looks like this: In nature, metals are almost always found bound tightly to other elements and as such are quite stable. It takes heat and electricity to refine these impurities out and produce a pure usable product. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle offers multiple exposure paths for the absorption of these reactive metals. (Additionally, we now know that certain genes greatly increase the risk of developing the disease.)

Magnetite (magnetic iron) is naturally found inside all human and animal brains and is concentrated in the brain stems of mammals. Magnetite crystals in the brain are suspected of being directly linked to migratory behavior and probably to the ability to sense direction. However, if small amounts of magnetite in the brain is natural or even desirable, magnetite on the brain is definitely not.

The human body appears to have difficulty getting rid of certain excess metals that it acquires simply from breathing, eating and drinking, some of my very favorite pastimes. The metals circulate for a while, sometimes for years, while the body tries to figure out what to do with them. Eventually they can end up being excreted out of the body by neurons as the now famous “brain goo” or plaque.

Is there a medicine or food one can take to protect the brain from degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s and Multiple Sclerosis? Surprisingly, there is a purported natural, patented substance that claims to do just that.

THC containing cannabis is now known to have a strong protective effect on mammal brains. In fact, the U.S. government patented the neuroprotective effects of cannabis way back in 2003, and then sat on the patent while tens of millions of citizens suffered and died from neurodegenerative diseases. Cannabis products are also anti-inflammatory and cross the blood-brain barrier to influence the brain directly. As an example of this, when my 89-year-old father got long COVID along with inflammation in his brain, I gave him large doses of full spectrum CBD (300 mcgs daily as multiple doses). The results were immediately noticeable to all observers. He continues to take smaller amounts for cognition and to help him sleep. The doctors continue to insist there are no anti-inflammatory drugs available for inflamed brains available at this time.

THC has been definitively shown to prevent the formation of new Alzheimer’s brain goo, and exhibits a protective effect on the brain, helping to prevent those with a genetic propensity for the disease from coming down with it. This is not just theoretical speculation, as shown by the granting of a patent for cannabis’s neuroprotection properties. Diseases like epilepsy and Tourette’s syndrome are also positively affected by cannabis as THC calms the brain’s so called “excitatory mechanism.”

The old stories about marijuana destroying brain cells have been shown to be nothing more than propaganda, completely without scientific basis. Like any drug, use THC cannabis with caution, be aware of possible side effects, and use extra care when operating machinery.

And when you do use aluminum or tin cans, be sure to wash and recycle them. Among economically developed nations, U.S. has one of the lowest rates of can recycling. Seems a waste of resources to some of us thrifty country people.

In future articles, we will take a deeper dive into the world of metal coatings in food and beverage cans, and their links to cancer which, in this writer’s opinion, constitute a much greater risk to our health and wellbeing than the cans themselves.

Larry Plesent is a writer living in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Learn more at and

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