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HS 199 – Toxic Aluminum: The Trouble with this Abundant Element

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Not everyone finds aluminum as fascinating as Dr. Christopher Exley, who happens to be one of the world’s leading experts on the topic. Somehow, some way, the good doctor’s infectious enthusiasm is impossible to deny. Listen in on this episode of The Holistic Survival Show as host Jason Hartman interviews Dr. Exley about an intriguing paradox; how is it that the third most abundant element in the Earth’s crust is non-essential and largely harmful to life? His research over the last three decades has led him to investigate the silicon (the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust) connection to aluminum, or more specifically, is it silicon’s primary duty to keep aluminum from wreaking havoc with biology?

Exley is currently the Reader in Bioinorganic chemistry at The Birchall Centre, Keele University in Staffordshire and Honorary Professor at the UHI Millennium Institute. He is a biologist (University of Stirling) with a PhD in the ecotoxicology of aluminum. Strangely, this toxic element can be found in medicines, vaccines, deodorant, sunscreen, antacids, and more. The good news is that it can be easily leached from the body – with silicon rich mineral water – which Exley believes is like a natural antidote.

In physical appearance, Dr. Exley brings to mind the wild-maned, eccentric look of Dr. Brown (ably played by Christopher Lloyd) from the mid-1980s movie trilogy Back to the Future. Don’t be fooled, though, this guy can teach you some serious science.

In This Episode:
1. Is there a vaccine for aluminum on the horizon?
2. Hear the really neat way Dr. Exley pronounces “aluminum”
3. How aluminum accumulates and burdens the immune system
4. What does the science say about aluminum?
5. Much more…

Narrator: Welcome to the Holistic Survival Show with Jason Hartman. The economic storm brewing around the world is set to spill into all aspects of our lives. Are you prepared? Where are you going to turn for the critical life skills necessary for you to survive and prosper? The Holistic Survival Show is your family’s insurance for a better life. Jason will teach you to think independently, to understand threats and how to create the ultimate action plan. Sudden change or worst case scenario, you’ll be read/y. Welcome to Holistic Survival, your key resource for protecting the people, places and profits you care about in uncertain times. Ladies and gentlemen, your host, Jason Hartman.

Jason Hartman: Welcome to the Holistic Survival Show. This is your host Jason Hartman, where we talk about protecting the people, places, and profits you care about in these uncertain times. We have a great interview for you today. And we will be back with that in less than 60 seconds on the Holistic Survival Show. And by the way, be sure to visit our website at HolisticSurvival.com. You can subscribe to our blog, which is totally free, has loads of great information, and there’s just a lot of good content for you on the site, so make sure you take advantage of that at HolisticSurvival.com. We’ll be right back.

Start of Interview with Professor Christopher Exley

Jason Hartman: It’s my pleasure to welcome Professor Christopher Exley to the show. He is a world renowned expert on aluminum from Keele University in The UK. He was featured at Natural News this week for his revelations at studying levels of aluminum in baby formula. And this is an important and pressing issue and we’re going to learn more about it today. Chris, welcome. How are you?

Prof. Christopher Exley: Yeah, thank you very much. Thanks for the invitation to talk to you.

Jason Hartman: Well, my pleasure. And you’re coming to us from beautiful England, right?

Prof. Christopher Exley: Of course. It’s always beautiful in England.

Jason Hartman: Between rain.

Prof. Christopher Exley: The days are drawing in and it’s a little bit dreary out there at the moment. But it’s always beautiful of course.

Jason Hartman: I remember on one of my last trips to England I really got to experience the English countryside and it was just stunning – it was beautiful.

Prof. Christopher Exley: We’re blessed with many beautiful areas here.

Jason Hartman: Yes, you certainly are.

Prof. Christopher Exley: In such a small island.

Jason Hartman: Absolutely. And it used to be, in the old days, that the sun never set on the empire.

Prof. Christopher Exley: That’s right, yeah. Things are changing.

Jason Hartman: Tell us about aluminum and the dangers.

Prof. Christopher Exley: The research area that I’ve worked in for nearly 30 years now is actually I want to understand everything that I can about how aluminum impacts upon living things. We really began asking the question is aluminum useful for life in any way? And obviously it’s useful for making cars and this type of thing but is it useful as an element of life, for bringing life and being essential for living things? And we were never able to actually identify anything. And, in fact, it’s still true today that no living organism uses aluminum for any beneficial purpose whatsoever.

This is very interesting because aluminum is actually the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust. And it creates a sort of paradox because all of the other abundant metals in the Earth’s crust and indeed all of the other abundant elements are essential to life. So, trying to understand why the most abundant metal and the third most abundant element aluminum is not essential for life has really been my life’s work, trying to understand that.

When you really begin on that pathway, you then of course start to come across a number of different areas where aluminum does impact upon living things.

Jason Hartman: I like the way you say it better.

Prof. Christopher Exley: I’ll remember to do it that way. And, for example, one way perhaps many people might have come across and certainly in North America, you had a problem with something called acid rain. And we’ve had a problem in Northern Europe with acid rain. And certainly back in the mid-70s and early 80s, this was quite a significant problem. And what we’ve learned at that time, and this is really when my research started in the early 80s, we learned that the acidification that was produced by acid rain, and this is of course of manmade origin this rain, we call it anthropogenic origin, wasn’t actually the problem. It wasn’t the acidity that was killing fish in lakes or trees in forests. It was actually calaminium being released into those lakes or into the soil waters. The trees were taking aluminum, the fish were killed by aluminum.

And this immediately told us that when aluminum was biologically available, it is actually quite toxic. And actually this then started to fit with a number of other observations, including observations in humans where under certain circumstances where humans had been inadvertently exposed to aluminum, we found out aluminum was neuro toxic, can produce serious encephalopathy, a death of neurons in the brain. We found that it affects bone and bone conditions. We found that it produced an anemia within individuals.

But these conditions are mainly what we would describe as an acute condition. And we are much more interested in what I now call living in the aluminum age. Because when I went to school, we learned about things like iron age, copper age, bronze age. Well, actually, what I’ve described the last 100 years or so since we’re able to take aluminum out of these inert ores from the earth and turn it into metal, I’ve called this the aluminum age. And it’s the aluminum age because you can’t even begin to imagine the number of different ways that we actually use aluminum to begin within our everyday lives.

So getting an understanding now of not only how it is used but the consequences of its use is part of the program that we have running here at Keele called our Human Exposure to Aluminum Program. And part of that is looking at the way in which we know we’re using aluminum and the other part of it is perhaps where we might not be aware that aluminum is a contaminant of a number of systems and therefore, as a contaminant, also we are being exposed to it and it may be getting inside our body.

Jason Hartman: Talk to us, if you would, before you go on – this is very interesting – about some of the exposure points. Where are we getting it? Your recent study talks about baby formula. I believe deodorant and antiperspirant is a problem, is one of the culprits as well, right?

Prof. Christopher Exley: There are so many. But if you want the highlighted few, you picked at one there which is antiperspirant. Now, be careful because aluminum acts as antiperspirant. It is not a deodorant. You can get some deodorants which are only deodorants – they don’t have aluminum in them. But anything that uses the word “antiperspirant” contains aluminum. And yes, these are incredibly effective at preventing sweating. So, yes, you may be applying about 1 gram of aluminum salt into each arm every morning if you’re a regular user of an aluminum antiperspirant.

Other examples are, for example, vaccination. We use aluminum in antigens. Antigens are used to make sure that a vaccine goes a long way, produces a strong immune response to a very small amount of the antigen. And we use aluminum antigens – the only antigen we’ve used for almost 100 years.

Jason Hartman: Is that in every type of vaccine or just some?

Prof. Christopher Exley: Nearly every type. So, in other words, you could probably make an approximation of 80% or more of all vaccinations ever given included an aluminum measurement and still do today because it’s very effective and of course it’s very cheap. So, it really does allow you to use a very expensive antigen in very, very small amounts because it promotes the antigenic effects.

Jason Hartman: It amplifies it in other words.

Prof. Christopher Exley: Exactly. It’s very effective and that’s why we use it.

Jason Hartman: I’m just curious about the vaccines. Would it be possible to make that vaccine if you could have access to it and pay more for it for it to have more of the antigen and less of the aluminum or none of the aluminum? Or would it not work that way at all?

Prof. Christopher Exley: Those vaccines where aluminum antigens are used, I am not even sure that you get the same type of immune response if you left out the aluminum antigen part. I’m not really sure if those types of experiments have really been done because in some instances it may be hard to get any antigenic response at all. That’s important. Now, there are other antigen materials that have been used in the past and some that are still used today. Mainly, aluminum has been chosen, yes because it’s cheaper and because many people think it’s completely safe. Now, it probably is quite safe. But there are a number of people who, it would appear, do suffer a bad reaction to aluminum in antigens in the same way as there may be people who suffer from similar exposures to aluminum in other ways.

We’re using it in our medications. We’re putting it in all sorts of food. It’s in so many different things in so many different ways. The result is every cell in my body and your body does include some aluminum atoms, some more than others, some individuals more than others. And those aluminum atoms, they’re not benign. They are biologically reactive. They are biochemically involved in processes going on, but none of those processes are necessary or required or indeed beneficial.

So, each and every one of those, I always talk about we’re coping with our body burden of aluminum. We have a burden each and every one of us with aluminum associated with us which has come from what we do in our everyday lives, where we live, what we do, everything that we do. And our bodies have to expend energy dealing with that.

Now, we do not know what the long-term consequences of that are. Now, some of your listeners or readers, they may have heard of connections with, for example, neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s as being a connection between aluminum and Alzheimer’s. And indeed there were connections Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis.

These conditions, we are not sure what the exact connection with aluminum is. And we’re not sure whether it’s dependent on, for example, aluminum being accumulated over a lifetime or on approach of a lifetime before any effect can be noticed. There are definitely strong links here and they may come from the fact that we also know that with age we accumulate aluminum in our bodies. And while we are continually excreting aluminum, that that we take in, some of it is accumulated. And so we know that when we die there will be more aluminum in our body than when we were born.

All of these factors, to me, even though I cannot be sure, my intuition tells me that some things have no biological function, it’s not required for any purpose, has never been shown to be beneficial in any way, it’s probably something we don’t want.

Jason Hartman: I would agree completely.

Prof. Christopher Exley: And therefore, we should, until we know more, until we really understand what the long-term consequences of the lifetime exposures to aluminum what those consequences are. We should adopt a cautionary approach and we should reduce our exposure to aluminum as much as possible.

Now, this is why, probably bringing you back to these reasons why you called me, this is why the recent research showing very significant levels of aluminum in baby formulas, infant formulas, breast milk substitutes, is really quite alarming because these are the newest and most vulnerable members of our society and they’re offering them an aluminum boost in the first few months of our lives. And this to me is wrong.

Jason Hartman: So, what about the vaccine debate? I mean, we’ve done some shows on that before and people believe there’s an autism connection, etcetera. And then I want to ask you, other than staying away from aluminum, is there any flush? Is there any cleanse that can reduce the amount of it in our bodies?

Prof. Christopher Exley: What we’ve got to be careful of and always be careful of is we need to go by the science. And that’s something that my group has always done. And, for example, we have a research program looking right now at the biologic availability of aluminum in vaccines. We’re interested in that. Because clearly something that is so immunogenic has significant biological activity and therefore has the potential in some individuals to produce harm. And we need to understand that.

Now, that doesn’t mean that it is associated with any of these vaccine related disorders until we’ve done the research to say otherwise. At the moment we don’t know. But there are the links and you’ve suggested some of those yourself.

Now, our philosophy about aluminum is, first of all, the people from the aluminum industry think that we hate aluminum. We’re the opposite – we love aluminum. This is what we do for our research. It’s our life, it’s my life, it’s what I do more than anything else. And we under most circumstances are saying that we’ve got to ban aluminum – we realize that’s ridiculous. Aluminum has done a good amount of good for mankind, particularly in the 20th, now 21st century.

Jason Hartman: In manufacturing, in things, materials.

Prof. Christopher Exley: That’s correct. In many different ways, it’s been incredibly beneficial. However, what had never been asked of the aluminum industry, they have never been asked to demonstrate its safety in any application at all. And therefore, it’s down to people like ourselves to actually start to look at this, to start to try to understand at what level we might consider aluminum to be safe and at what levels we think perhaps we need to do something about it.

In other words, if we’re going to live successfully and healthily in the aluminum age, we need to understand these so that we can reduce our exposure where it’s appropriate. Now, what you asked me about, are there ways and means of cleansing yourself, [00:17:17] major research program in my group as you probably could guess – we’re obsessed with aluminum.

Jason Hartman: Right. It doesn’t seem like we’re going to be able to avoid it.

Prof. Christopher Exley: Exactly. And you get the point there. It’s going to be almost impossible to avoid it. So, what we need to do, if we can, I think aluminum should not be included in anything in the future until it’s demonstrated to be safe to do so, or if it is included or if it is there in the contaminants, it should be measured and written on the package of wherever it is to tell the user, whoever that is, that they would be exposing themselves to aluminum when we use this product.

In the meantime, we found an interesting relationship which goes right back to my original work which is on aluminum toxicity in fish. And we were able to show aluminum has a natural antagonist, something that protects against aluminum toxicity. And that’s actually the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, silicone. Silicon protects against the toxicity of aluminum. Now, this very interesting relationship, the chemistry of it is one of the major programs in my team. But also, we’re trying to apply that chemistry to both reduce the amount of aluminum that we absorb across our gut from our food and etcetera and also to actually remove the aluminum that’s already present in the body.

The way that you can do that, and this is going to sound rather simple but it works, there are on the market – and in the US an example would be Fiji water – and by the way, we do not get any funding from these organizations – there are mineral waters that are rich in the element silicon. And in these mineral waters, silicon is in a form called soluble silicon. We call that silicic acid. What we know is that when you drink the silicon rich mineral water, the silicon or silicic acid in there goes into your blood and helps to remove aluminum from your body via your kidneys. So you pee, you produce aluminum in your urine.

So, we now have a number of programs both with healthy volunteers but also been working with people with Alzheimer’s disease, people with Parkinson’s disease. We’re just about to start a study with people with multiple sclerosis. Since we’ve shown that by drinking about a liter or so of silicon rich mineral water every day, you are reducing your body burden of aluminum.

Now, a liter of mineral water a day, that’s quite a bit for most people. But if you are able to sustain that and keep it as part of your everyday routine in your diet, we’ve done studies so far over about 15 weeks where we’ve shown what we call the body burden of aluminum is definitely reducing. If you can sustain that over months and years, we actually do believe that individuals could gain some particular protection from the possible toxicity of aluminum by doing this very simple thing and non-invasive.

Jason Hartman: Is this only Fiji water?

Prof. Christopher Exley: I’m not supporting Fiji water.

Jason Hartman: I understand. This show is sponsored by Fiji water – I’m just kidding.

Prof. Christopher Exley: Exactly. We don’t have any sponsorship from them. What I can tell you, though, is that this is sort of cut off. Now, on a bottle of mineral water, we often do see silicon labeled and the amount that’s in the mineral water on the label. It’s also written actually not as silicon but as silica. And if it says 30 milligrams per liter or 30 ppm or greater, that product should help you to remove aluminum from your body and reduce the absorption of aluminum into your body.

Jason Hartman: And so there are many, many types of waters that do this, right?

Prof. Christopher Exley: No, there are not many. There aren’t many in terms of around the world. For example, in the UK, there were probably only 3 or 4 that we can buy easily off the shelf in local supermarkets. And actually, my friends in the US find it relatively difficult to find silicon rich mineral waters there, too. In parts of Europe it’s much easier. In France, they have many, many more mineral water companies. And many of those mineral waters come in from areas and it’s all to do with the geology and geography of the area where the mineral water is naturally rich in silicon.

In our studies, the one mineral water company that does sponsor some of our work by providing us with the mineral water free of charge is a company called Spritzer from Malaysia which isn’t available in The US or in Europe. But again, they have a range of mineral waters with a high silicon content. And for us to do our studies on Alzheimer’s and coming up multiple sclerosis, you can imagine we need thousands and thousands of liters of this stuff and we get loads of it free of charge from this particular company to do the research.

Jason Hartman: So, can’t we just take a silicon supplement of some sort rather than worrying about the hard to find water?

Prof. Christopher Exley: Everybody asks this question. And it’s the obvious thing to do because you can go to your health foods shop and there’s loads of these silicon supplements. And unfortunately, silicon supplements are generally something called silica. Silica is of course what happens to silicic acid when aggregated it comes out as solution. Silica is sand essentially. Now, unfortunately, if you took some sand and you dropped it in some water, theoretically it will dissolve to give you soluble silicon, but you need to wait about several hundred thousand years or something like that. In other words, it’s a very slow process going one way and not the other.

These silicon supplements, many people take them and some people actually tell you that they get some positive results from them. That’s quite possible because silica is a surface upon which, for example, metals, including aluminum can absorb and it might help the metals to be excreted in that way. It doesn’t give you silicic acid. It doesn’t give you soluble silicon. Or if it does, it gives you a relatively small amount in comparison to what you can get simply from a mineral water and sometimes from your own tap water. But it’s very rare that tap water is so high in silicon as these specific mineral waters are.

So, the silicon supplements do not supply you with soluble silicon. It’s unfortunate. And we have for many years been involved with trying to develop something which does. And there are companies out there that claim to have developed things that do and we have tested them all and none of them live up to the claims. So, one has to be very careful about that. I don’t want to put people off from using silicon supplements. If people find them to be helpful, go ahead and use them, but they are not working in the way in which we understand this particular chemistry to work.

Jason Hartman: And so it sounds like, then, the water advice that you mentioned, and can we make an attempt to avoid aluminum or is it almost futile?

Prof. Christopher Exley: I make attempts to avoid it in a number of ways, but I balance those up against my own personal feeling. So, for example, I eat very little processed food because I know that aluminum is used in the processing of food and I know that certain types of processed food contain considerably more aluminum than, for example, fresh food where you cooked something yourself.

I’m sure the US is exactly the same as the UK in the ready meal world. Everybody goes out and buys ready meals this and fast food that. These are the types of products which will contain more aluminum. There are opportunities there to cut down, for example, on your aluminum intake. It includes all of our favorite drinks, all these soft drinks with colas and similar types of things. These will have aluminum in them much more so than some fresh milk or a fresh juice that’s given longer life.

The other thing we have to worry about is packaging. So, one of the problems with the infant formula study that we found was it’s quite likely that the high level of aluminum in the infant formulas is that some of it is coming from the packaging because there’s so much aluminum based packaging used these days. It really is everywhere.

For example, long life products, if you drink long life orange juice – you know the type you get in the carton that you can keep for a year as long as you keep it out of the heat and things – these cartons are usually made of a tri-laminate. They also have a cardboard on the outside, a polythene on the inside, but in the middle is aluminum. And that aluminum is brilliant at keeping oxygen out of the product. And that’s why it works so well and why aluminum is so good. But there is always some aluminum from that foil getting into your product. And the longer you keep it for, the higher that content would be.

I would never drink any of these long-life type products. I would always buy fresh orange or something which is in a plastic or perhaps a glass but generally I guess plastic container or paper, just pure paper container or something of that sort. You can also avoid doing things in your kitchen. You can avoid simple things like wherever you’ve got acidic foods of any sort, not putting them in direct content with aluminum in cookware or indeed aluminum foil or tin foil as you might call it. You can reduce things in that manner. And it perhaps becomes a way of life to do that.

I mean, one of the things that I do do is I do apply antiperspirant because I cannot live without it. I cycle a long way into work every day. And it just would not be very pleasant for my colleagues if I was sweating all the time. So, I make that sacrifice. But I do quite like to drink quite a lot of silicon rich mineral water to try and compensate for that purpose. You have to choose things yourself as the way in which you can do something about it.

Jason Hartman: Yeah, makes sense. And one of the things that I’ve heard about breast cancer is that – particularly women but men get breast cancer too – shaving one’s underarms and then applying that antiperspirant is so much worse. It should never be applied on freshly shaved skin because that’s when the skin is more open, right?

Prof. Christopher Exley: You make a great, interesting subject. And next week I’m off to a conference in Austria on the very subject of breast cancer. And right now there is a burgeoning but small amount of evidence that is implicating aluminum and possibly antiperspirants in breast cancer. That’s the only place we’re at at the moment.

A few years ago we did our first study on this, I think published in 2007, where we’re able to show that when biopsies or samples are taken from women who had breast cancer across the breast, from the area closest to the underarm to the area furthest away, in every individual we always found more aluminum in the breast tissue in the area closest to the underarm. So, that sort of alerted us to the possibility that aluminum might have a role to play in this disease.

Since then, there’s been quite a lot of interesting research which is beginning to give us a possible mechanism also of how aluminum might have a role to play in this disease. And, in fact, I’m going to present some brand new research at this meeting, some of which I can tell you about now which is I had mentioned already that one of the ways in which we get rid of aluminum from the body is through our urine, by peeing it. Actually, what we’ve found, and just publishing at the moment, is it looks like our perspiration, our sweat, may be a much more efficient way that we are removing aluminum from our body. So, we may actually be sweating more aluminum than we are peeing aluminum on a day to day basis.

Now, that’s a good thing because we’re removing aluminum. But it raises this interesting question. In the underarm area, we are applying an aluminum salt to stop removing the aluminum by sweating. In other words, it’s like a double hit there in that area. Not only are you applying an aluminum salt to prevent the sweat gland from working, but in preventing the sweat gland from working in that area of the tissue, you’re not removing the aluminum by sweating because you’ve stopped sweating.

Jason Hartman: Because you stop it there, right?

Prof. Christopher Exley: Yeah. So, that’s an area now that I think we need to focus on as the possible reason why there may be elevated amounts of aluminum in those areas, not simply because it’s being applied to the surface of the skin as the antiperspirant but also the action of the antiperspirant in preventing aluminum being removed from those tissues by sweating. So that’s some new research for you that we’re going to review.

Jason Hartman: So, maybe just in general, peeing and sweating more is good for us.

Prof. Christopher Exley: Absolutely. You’re absolutely right. Drinking water and doing exercise. And you know what? There’s very good evidence – some examples, take the well-known neurological condition of Alzheimer’s disease – very good evidence that you get protection from physical exercise. Now, we don’t know why. No one worked out why that is. Perhaps it’s simply because people who are regularly doing exercises are more efficient in removing aluminum from their body. It’s a possibility – we don’t know.

Jason Hartman: Another good reason to exercise. You’re just speeding up the system a bit and flushing it more. That’s gotta be good.

Prof. Christopher Exley: That’s absolutely right. I’m sure that’s right.

Jason Hartman: Exactly, good. Well, give out your website and tell people where they can find out more about your research.

Prof. Christopher Exley: I’m at Keele University. I can give you the website address. It’s relatively straightforward. We’re at www.Keele.ac.uk/aluminum. That will take you to my website. And, listen, if anybody really wants to drop me an email, I’m more than happy to try and answer the questions as well as I can.

Jason Hartman: Well, very good. Professor, Christopher Exley, thank you so much for joining us today and telling us about this very, very interesting research. And I wish you well in doing more research and finding more ways that we can keep this metal at bay – it’s not doing us any good. So thanks for joining us.

Prof. Christopher Exley: It’s my pleasure. Thank you very much.

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Narrator: Thank you for joining us today for the Holistic Survival Show, protecting the people, places and profits you care about in uncertain times. Be sure to listen to our Creating Wealth Show which focuses on exploiting the financial and wealth creation opportunities in today’s economy. Learn more at www.JasonHartman.com or search “Jason Hartman” on iTunes. This show is produced by The Hartman Media Company, offering very general guidelines and information. Opinions of guests are their own and none of the content should be considered individual advice. If you require personalized advice, please consult an appropriate professional. Information deemed reliable, but not guaranteed.

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