APPLYING SIR AUSTIN BRADFORD HILL’S CAUSALITY CRITERIA
Dr. J.R. Walton, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales
Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 40 (2014) 765–838
Abstract. Industrialized societies produce many convenience foods with aluminum additives that enhance various food properties and use alum (aluminum sulfate or aluminum potassium sulfate) in water treatment to enable delivery of large volumes of drinking water to millions of urban consumers. The present causality analysis evaluates the extent to which the routine, life-long intake, and metabolism of aluminum compounds can account for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), using Austin Bradford Hill’s nine epidemiological and experimental causality criteria, including strength of the relationship, consistency, specificity, temporality, dose-dependent response, biological rationale, coherence with existing knowledge, experimental evidence, and analogy. Mechanisms that underlie the risk of low concentrations of aluminum relate to (1) aluminum’s absorption rates, allowing the impression that aluminum is safe to ingest and as an additive in food and drinking water treatment, (2) aluminum’s slow progressive uptake into the brain over a long prodromal phase, and (3) aluminum’s similarity to iron, in terms of ionic size, allows aluminum to use iron-evolved mechanisms to enter the highly-active, iron-dependent cells responsible for memory processing. Aluminum particularly accumulates in these iron- dependent cells to toxic levels, dysregulating iron homeostasis and causing microtubule depletion, eventually producing changes that result in disconnection of neuronal afferents and efferents, loss of function and regional atrophy consistent with MRI findings in AD brains. AD is a human form of chronic aluminum neurotoxicity. The causality analysis demonstrates that chronic aluminum intake causes AD.