We Can Control One Of The Likely Causes Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Many theories abound about the causes of this dreaded disease and none are universally accepted. What we do know is that it is a very complex disease with several likely causes. We all see Alzheimer’s disease in someone we know or hear about. Well over 5 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed now and many more probably will develop the disease as we age and live longer than ever.One of the likely causes we now know is environmental, including exposure to heavy metals. Research reveals the damaging effect of exposure to such heavy metals as lithium, aluminum and cadmium on our brains .
Most people fear developing Alzheimer’s disease as we age. What is very clear is that the risk of Alzheimer’s rises with age. By the time a person reaches age 85, the chances of having this brain-destroying disease are at least one in three. Not good odds for our aging parents nor for us, the adult children. If we have pretty good evidence that exposure to these heavy metals makes the risk worse, wouldn’t we want to stop or limit our exposure to heavy metals?
The average person certainly doesn’t know when or how we get exposed in the first place. At least we do know what a team of Chinese and American researchers found after reviewing a vast amount of scientific research into heavy metal exposure and the risk of Alzheimer’s. As reported by David Perlmutter, M.D., a neurologist focused on prevention, this research team did a comprehensive meta-analysis of heavy metal exposure, focused particularly on aluminum, mercury, cadmium, and lead. They concluded that there was a significant positive relationship between elevated blood levels of these metals and Alzheimer’s risk. Oddly, lead did not lead to higher risk, but seemed to be associated with decreased risk. However we know that lead exposure is toxic for other reasons.
Let’s look at just one of these heavy metals, cadmium and how we could get exposed to it. Most of us are aware of nickel-cadmium batteries, part of our everyday lives. We know that batteries must be properly recycled, not thrown in the trash which goes to landfill. But we may not be aware that we can be also exposed to this particular heavy metal by cigarette smoking, through certain shellfish and from food grown in soil contaminated with it. Primary sources of cadmium in soil are mining waste and municipal waste management putting contaminated sewage into the soil which is then used for agriculture.
And that’s just one of the heavy metals. Aluminum and mercury are also ubiquitous, found in water supplies, fish and other sources to which we are all exposed. What’s a person to do about this? How can we keep aging parents safer and reduce their risk and ours from potentially contributing to the development of Alzheimer’s disease from heavy metal exposure?
If anyone needs yet another reason to stop smoking, cutting a risk of Alzheimer’s disease is one of them. If your aging parents live in a place where the drinking water is questionable, get them drinking cleaner bottled water. We can control at least some risk of exposure from the community’s water supplies. When possible, buy organic food. The soil it is grown in has to be safer than other soil untested for residues. With organic foods, you at least eliminate pesticide exposure on top of potential heavy metal exposure. Perhaps pesticide residue and heavy metals are a double whammy. (Certified organic means no pesticides in growing the food and none used in the soil for those foods for 3 years.)
Most people use batteries for something quite often if not daily. We avoid adding to environmental contamination and our exposure by disposing of them properly, with specific recycling, and not throwing them in the trash. Our trash goes to the landfill, which can be turned into sludge and then put into the agricultural land when cities do things that way.
- Smoking is already a disease risk. Stopping eliminates one more risk–Alzheimer’s.
- Get publicly available municipal test results for the water where you/your aging parents live. If it’s questionable, get filtered or bottled water for daily use.
- Buy organic food when you can as it’s likely to be safer from contaminants than non-organically grown foods.
- Avoid throwing spent batteries into the trash, which sends them to the landfill, potentially creating cadmium exposure-another Alzheimer’s disease risk.
If there are some things besides generally good health habits of diet and exercise we need to follow, let’s follow them and minimize the chance of harm to our aging parents and us. It only makes sense to do what we can.