How Aluminum in Vaccines Affects Your Health
by Joseph Mercola, DO
Published June 21, 2016
The toxicity of aluminum may even exceed the toxicity of mercury in the human body.
Dr. Suzanne Humphries, author of “Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and The Forgotten History,”1 is a nephrologist who has committed the latter part of her medical career to exposing the oft-hidden facts about vaccines, their history, and what makes them potentially dangerous.
Aluminum (pronounced and spelled “aluminium” in Europe) is a known neurotoxin, and scientific evidence shows that it can play a significant role in neurological diseases, including dementia, autism, and Parkinson’s disease.
Common routes of exposure include antiperspirants, food, aluminum-based household products, and vaccines.
In the featured video, which was recorded in Tampere, Finland, Humphries provides a comprehensive critique on aluminum-containing vaccines, which she claims can pose a very significant health risk—especially to infants.
The toxicity of aluminum may even exceed the toxicity of mercury in the human body. She’s particularly concerned about the new trend of promoting vaccinations during pregnancy.
She covers far more information in this video than I can include in this article, so I urge you to set aside the time to watch this nearly two-hour long lecture—especially if you have children. Understanding this material may make a lifetime of difference for your child.
The Case Against Aluminum in Vaccines
Which vaccines typically contain aluminum? As a general rule of thumb, live vaccines will not contain aluminum. Only vaccines made with killed/inactivated viruses and so-called “toxoid” vaccines may have it, and this goes for both childhood and adult vaccines.
In this video, Humphries dissects and rebuts the arguments you often hear from pro-vaccine doctors about vaccine aluminum, and the shocking lack of science to back up claims of safety.
As noted by Humphries, the issue of aluminum is often an Achilles heel in the vaccination argument, and here she reviews the fine details you need to know and understand.
For starters, when you orally ingest aluminum, your body will absorb between 0.2 to 1.5% of it. When aluminum is injected into muscle, your body absorbs 100%, which is why aluminum-containing vaccines are likely far more dangerous than eating aluminum.
While mercury preservative has been mostly removed from vaccines because of its known neurotoxicity, the levels of adjuvant aluminum have virtually no upper limit in the vaccine program, and the number of aluminum-containing vaccines American children receive2 has quadrupled over the past 30 years.
In the 1970s, American children got only four aluminum-containing vaccines within the first 18 months of life. Now, they typically receive 17. In the U.S., babies end up getting up to 4,925 micrograms (mcg) of aluminum within the first 18 months of life, and an additional 170 to 625 mcg by the age of 6.
In Finland, where this talk was held, babies receive an estimated maximum of 3,125 mcg of aluminum, if they give the hepatitis B vaccine. In all, American children end up getting about 6,150 mcg of aluminum if they get all of the recommended vaccines on the childhood vaccine schedule.
Why Is Aluminum Used in Vaccines?
Aluminum is used as a vaccine adjuvant—a substance that when mixed with an antigen from a virus or bacteria, elicits a greater inflammatory immune response and theoretically a higher response of protective antibodies.
As noted by Humphries, “babies are programmed to be anti-inflammatory,” meaning the placenta and breast milk help “program” the child to maintain a non-inflamed state.
In order to make these killed, subunit, or toxoid vaccines work, an adjuvant must be used to sufficiently stir or aggravate the immune system into action. By so doing, vaccines “violate the natural programming of the baby’s immune system.”
Depending on whether the vaccine contains live or inactivated microbes, the vaccine will promote either cell-mediated (Th1) or antibody-mediated (Th2) immunity respectively.
In normal immunity, both arms of immunity are important but they communicate with each other and probably have more subtle roles in immunity than modern immunology has yet defined. The following is a simplification of a very complex process:
When the former, Th1 predominates, your body is in better condition to fight infection whereas when Th2 predominates, you are less prepared to fight infection and more apt to allergies. This is well proven in many peer reviewed medical articles.
In order to understand disease and health, it’s important to understand how your immune system works. You are born with an innate immunity against disease, in large part thanks to your microbiome—healthy bacteria residing in your gut, on your skin, and in various mucosas, such as your nose and mouth.
These commensal bacteria protect you from invasion by potentially harmful microbes. If your innate immune system fails, infection will set in, and other immune cells take over the fight against the invading pathogen.
If this layer of your immune system also fails, your lymph nodes, spleen, and lymphatic organs can come into play. This is where the immune response develops long-term “memory” of the invading pathogen, ultimately resulting in long-term immunity once the infection has been successfully conquered.
Factors that can weaken these three layers of your immune system include poor nutrition, being fed formula rather than breast milk, lack of sleep, stress, and so on. In a weakened state, your body will have a more difficult time battling the invading microbe.
Salmonella infection or measles, for example, can result in very severe illness if your immune system is compromised. If healthy, however, your body will quite easily combat the infection; recover, and have long-term naturally-acquired immunity against the pathogen in question.
Vaccines bypass the first two natural layers of protection provided by your innate immune system and early induced innate immune response, and move right into the third layer of your adaptive immune response.
The immunity provided by a vaccine, therefore, is very different from the natural immunity acquired from an active infection. For starters, it’s only temporary, not life-long.
Inactivated Vaccines Increase Death Several-Fold
Humphries cites an important African study, published in 2014, which looked at mortality during 12 months of follow-up after vaccination with live versus inactivated vaccines. Some of the children received multiple injections of live vaccines, while others received both live and inactivated vaccines.
Interestingly, the death rate was nearly eight times higher among the children who received a mix of both live and inactivated vaccines over the following six months, and nearly five times higher over the following 12 months. Overall, giving inactivated vaccines translated into a 64% higher mortality rate!
Sadly, few people are talking about these results, and those who do are being soundly ignored by the World Health Organization. According to Humphries, there are a number of factors contributing to these results. Aluminum in inactivated vaccines is part of it, but it also has to do with the fact that inactivated vaccines program your immune system in a way that decreases your body’s ability to fight off disease later.
Vaccine Studies Fail to Look for Long-Term Non-Specific Effects
It’s important to realize that this problem is not limited to countries like Africa. Inactivated vaccines pose similar health risks in the Western world, including DTaP and hepatitis B vaccines. It’s also important to understand that vaccine studies do not look for non-specific effects such as increased mortality.
For example, the specific effect of the measles vaccine is its ability to prevent measles. Non-specific effects include everything outside of that; good or bad. What this means is that a vaccine may effectively help prevent a disease, and is therefore considered a success—even though the non-specific effect could be a higher mortality rate. Very few vaccines have ever been studied to actually ascertain non-specific effects such as mortality rate.
What Does the Science Say About Vaccine Aluminum Safety?
Since aluminum is used as an adjuvant in so many vaccines, it seems reasonable to assume that extensive tests have been done to ascertain its safety. Reasonable or not, such an assumption would be false. There is in fact no real evidence at all to support the idea that injecting aluminum-containing vaccines is safe. All we know is that it’seffective.
In 2004, Dr. Thomas Jefferson and colleagues with the Cochrane Collaboration, which is the gold standard for evidence-based reviews, conducted a meta-analysis3 on adverse events after immunization with aluminum-containing DTP vaccines. Surprisingly, the review concluded that: “Despite a lack of good-quality evidence we do not recommend that any further research on this topic is undertaken.”
Why would they dissuade any further investigation into aluminum adjuvants when there are still so many open questions, and despite admitting that there’s a lack of good quality evidence of its safety? The answer, Humphries notes, is in the report itself, which states:
Assessment of the safety of aluminum in vaccines is important because replacement of aluminum compounds in currently licensed vaccines would necessitate the introduction of a completely new compound that would have to be investigated before licensing.
No obvious candidates to replace aluminum are available, so withdrawal for safety reasons would severely affect the immunogenicity and protective effects of some currently licensed vaccines and threaten immunization programs worldwide. [Emphasis mine]
Public Health Objectives Outweigh Health of Individuals
So they’re NOT actually considering the health of individuals here. Rather, they’ve chosen to protect the immunization programs, because without aluminum, a large number of vaccines would have to be eliminated since there are no viable alternatives. Another publication that sheds light on the true motivation for defending aluminum-based vaccines can be found in the Federal Register, Volume 49, No. 107, published in June 1, 1984, which states in part:
… [A]ny possible doubts, whether or not well founded, about the safety of the vaccine [Editor’s note: referring to the polio vaccine specifically] cannot be allowed to exist in view of the need to assure that the vaccine will continue to be used to the maximum extent consistent with the nation’s public health objectives.
If you bring these facts to your doctor and question the safety of vaccinating your child—especially the routine practice of administering multiple vaccines simultaneously—you’ll likely be told that there is nothing to worry about, because the amount of aluminum in vaccines is extremely small, and the body gets rid of most of the aluminum within a matter of a few days. To quote Humphries, “that’s completely untrue.”
As mentioned earlier, there’s a big difference in absorption between ingesting aluminum and injecting it into muscle tissue. Moreover, while breast milk may give your child 21 mcg of aluminum in a day, and conventional formula about 114 mcg, it’s spread out over several feedings and only a minute part is absorbed into the body.
When given as an injection, you get a small dose—but it is 100% absorbed into the body under circumstances that supercharge the inflammatory process and have a totally different effect than ingesting aluminum does. So can you really compare ingested aluminum to injected aluminum? According to Humphries, the answer is a firm no.
They may also assure you that aluminum is a very common metal in the environment, and is found naturally in breast milk, formula, foods, and drinking water, and will therefore accumulate naturally in your child’s body. That may be very true, but that certainly doesn’t mean such accumulation is healthy!
How Much Aluminum Can a Baby Safely Handle at One Time?
Pro-vaccine advocates will tell you that aluminum is rapidly excreted. But research shows a different reality. Rabbit studies show almost all of the aluminum (78 to 94%) is retained 28 days after intramuscular injection. Autopsy examinations revealed the aluminum accumulated in the kidneys, spleen, liver, heart, lymph nodes, and brain—in that order. Long-term, aluminum also collects in your bones.
Studies on human infants show that no aluminum is excreted short term at all. Here, 2-month old infants were given a total of 1,200 mcg of aluminum in the form of three intramuscular vaccines, as per the standard vaccination schedule. Blood and urine levels of aluminum were measured over the following 12 hours. The authors were “reassured” to find there was no rise in blood levels of aluminum following vaccination. But no aluminum came out through the urine either. So where did it all go?
When Humphries wrote to one of the authors to get an answer to that question, the author, Dr. Tammy Movsas, wrote back saying: “So… we don’t really know what happens to the aluminum at this point in time. As you said, more research is needed in this area.” Yet this study is one of the studies used to assuage fears that aluminum may be harmful.
In another study, one healthy adult male given a tiny amount of aluminum (a mere 0.7 mcg) intravenously, not intramuscularly, still had 4% of the aluminum in his body more than three years later. Most of the aluminum was excreted by the kidneys, and therein lies a major part of the problem, as infant kidney function is not equivalent to an adult.
Excretion of aluminum is not as efficient in infants and young children, yet this fact is almost never taken into consideration. That which is not excreted ends up accumulating in various organs, including the child’s brain, kidneys, and bones.
Macrophages Act as Trojan Horses Bringing Aluminum Into Your Brain
Yet another common lie is that any undissolved aluminum stays right at the injection site, where it remains harmless. This is not true. Many studies have demonstrated that as soon as the vaccine is injected, the bond holding the aluminum and antigen together dissolves, and the two separate.
Once the aluminum is injected into your body, immune cells called macrophages rush in and gobble up the aluminum. They also eat the antigen. (This is by design, because that’s how the vaccine “works.”) However, here’s the problem that vaccine makers ignore. Macrophages can carry whatever they’ve gobbled up right through the blood brain barrier, into your brain. And so like Trojan horses, they facilitate the penetration of aluminum into the brain.
This has been proved in a “proof of principle experiment” published in 2012, where nanoparticles were delivered into brain metastases of breast cancer using a cellular macrophage Trojan horse. Other recent research has demonstrated that aluminum translocates from muscle to the brain. One important 2013 study noted that:4
Alum has high neurotoxic potential, and planning administration of continuously escalating doses of this poorly biodegradable adjuvant in the population should be carefully evaluated by regulatory agencies since the compound may be insidiously unsafe… especially in the case of overimmunization or immature/altered blood brain barrier.
A great number of things can alter and open up your blood brain barrier, including premature birth, dysbiosis, inflammation, infectious agents, mitochondrial problems, infant formulas, irradiation, and methamphetamines, for example.
According to Humphries, even though we’re told that aluminum is safe, and vaccine aluminum is harmless, research has proven that vaccine aluminum does end up in the brain. Aluminum nanoparticles have even been photographed in macrophages inside the brain, after having been injected into muscle.
How Aluminum Causes Harm
Because of the Trojan horse action afforded by macrophages, aluminum is able to travel throughout your body, into places in your body where it can do significant harm. Your brain, of course, is one of the organs most sensitive to it, and its excitotoxic effects increase your risk for brain malfunction. Humphries likens the action of aluminum to “cluster bombs,” where the damage can be extensive, but not necessarily found everywhere in a uniform pattern.
There’s no telling which areas will be affected, but in the brain, even minor damage can cause severe problems. Other adverse effects of aluminum exposure include:
Note: This article was reprinted with the author’s permission. It was originally published on Dr. Mercola’s website at www.mercola.com.
A Price November 17, 2014
2 NVIC.org Vaccination Pamphlet (PDF)
3 Lancet Infectious Diseases 2004 Feb;4(2):84-90
4 BMC Medicine 2013 Apr 4;11:99