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How safe are aluminum pots and pans?

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Aluminum cookware is not hazardous to your health. Nor is there any evidence that it causes Alzheimer's disease. It is true that when the brains of people who have had Alzheimer's are autopsied, there is a higher concentration of aluminum in the tissue than in people who did not have the disease. The cause of this higher aluminum concentration is not known at this time. Something occurs in the disease process that causes aluminum present in the body to be concentrated in the brain tissue. Brain lesions characteristic of Alzheimer's disease are quite different from those seen in aluminum toxicity. The primary effect of aluminum toxicity is motor dysfunction. Alzheimer's disease is characterized by subtle cognitive changes. Aluminum can be eroded from cookware if acid foods are cooked or stored in them for several hours or days. It is best not to store acid foods in aluminum or other metal containers for long periods of time. Copper is often used in cookware because of its good heat conduction properties. Most copper cookware is lined with tin or steel so there is little chance of copper migration into the food. Copper cookware that is unlined or has lost the lining due to repeated use should not be used in food preparation. Pottery or ceramic cookware should be made especially for food purposes so that any lead in the glaze does not migrate into food. If a pottery or ceramic piece is not specifically manufactured for food purposes, it should be considered a decorative piece, only. Even in properly manufactured pieces, acid foods should not remain in them for any length of time. PREPARED BY: Angela M. Fraser, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Food Safety Specialist, and Carolyn J. Lackey, Ph.D., R.D., L.D.N., Professor/Food and Nutrition Specialist, North Carolina State University (August 2004)

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