Aluminium in everyday life: a health risk?

Aluminium and its compounds are contained in numerous foods, cosmetics and other products. Scientists, the media and the public are currently debating whether there may be a connection between aluminium intake and diseases such as Alzheimer's and breast cancer. Does aluminium indeed cause illness? Under the motto "Aluminium in everyday life: A health risk?" the 15th BfR Consumer Protection Forum will examine these and other questions. The event will be held at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in Berlin-Marienfelde on 26 and 27 November 2014. "Scientific uncertainties exist in regard to assessing the long-term effects of chronic aluminium intake", says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "In particular, there is a lack of data on the actual quantities of aluminium absorbed via the skin." Only on the basis of such information will it be possible to conduct an assessment of the risks and health effects of aluminium taking into account all exposure routes.

The BfR Consumer Protection Forum is a two-day event during which experts will provide information on the current state of research. They will discuss the implications of this research with stakeholders from the worlds of politics, business, consumer organisations, non-governmental organisations, the media and consumers.

Many people already ingest large quantities of aluminium through food. A certain proportion of the population probably reaches the tolerable intake level through food alone. In the case of additional long-term use of cosmetic products containing aluminium, this recommended maximum value may be exceeded.

Some studies discuss a link between aluminium intake and the development of Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer. Scientific evidence shows that high aluminium doses have neurotoxic effects in humans and teratogenic (harmful to the foetus) effects in animals. Indications of a possible connection between aluminium and breast cancer arise from studies on patients with increased levels of aluminium in their mammary gland tissue. However, due to the contradictory data available, no scientific evidence proving an unequivocal link between increased aluminium intake and Alzheimer’s disease or breast cancer has so far been presented. The BfR forum will address the question what contradictions and data gaps currently exist in this area and what kind of research projects will be necessary to throw light on these issues.

The event will take place at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in Berlin-Marienfelde on 26 and 27 November 2014. It will be made available on the Internet as a streaming video at www.bfr.bund.de.

About the BfR

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientific institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.





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