A light metallic element. It occurs in bauxite and other minerals and its compounds are found in low concentration in the body. Their function, if any, is unknown but they are believed to be harmful. Aluminium hydroxide is, however, a safe, slow-acting substance that is widely used in the treatment of indigestion, gastric ulcers (see STOMACH, DISEASES OF) and oesophagitis (see OESOPHAGUS, DISEASES OF), acting as an antacid (see ANTACIDS). Other ingested sources of aluminium include cooking utensils, kitchen foil and some cooking and food additives. Most aluminium is excreted; the rest is deposited in the brain, liver, lungs and thyroid gland. Prolonged use of aluminium-based antacids can cause loss of appetite, tiredness and weakness. It has been suggested that ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE is more common in areas with water which contains a high concentration of the element, but this issue is controversial.
Article Categories:Medical Dictionary