Do Pesticides Increase Your Risk for Alzheimer’s Dementia?

hole in brain illustration

While this blog focus on cancer, I remain committed to helping my readers to improve their quality of life. So, today we turn to the pesticide DDT and its relationship to dementia.

What You Need to Know: People who have been exposed at one time to the banned pesticide DDT are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in older age, compared to those without a history of such exposure.

The Evidence: Researchers compared blood samples from 86 AD patients with those of a similar group of healthy people, and found that the AD study participants had four times higher blood levels of the DDT byproduct DDE than healthy participants. Those with the highest blood levels of DDE faced a four times greater risk of AD.

What May be Happening: DDT may promote development of toxic beta-amyloid plaque that clogs the brain. The researchers found that among the AD patients with indications of high DDT exposure, those who also had an Alzheimer’s-prone variant of the apolipoprotein E gene were especially likely to show thinking problems.

My Take: DDT has been banned for agricultural use in the USA in 1972, it has a long half life, and still contaminates foods grown in food-exporting countries that use the pesticide. You may want to avoid produce raised in countries that still use DDT for mosquito control, or fish caught in contaminated waterways. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

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Reference: JAMA Neurology (online) 27 January 2014

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Harvard AB Yale MD UPenn Radiation Oncology Radiation Oncologist, Seattle area

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