The pesticideDDT (dichlorodiphnyltrichloroethane) may have been banned here in the US since 1972, but evidence of it is showing up in Alzheimer’s at alarming rates according to a study led by Jason Richardson of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers University in NJ. In fact, Richardson reports that Alzheimer’s patients were found to have “four times the level of a DDT by product in their blood than those who did not have dementia.”
Richardson has also been involved in a study that connected another banned pesticide, beta-hexachlorocyclohexane (beta-HCH), to Parkinson's disease.
“Exposure to DDT appears to promote the development of amyloid beta plaques, which clog the neurons,” Richardson stated, adding that the pesticide “may also further increase Alzheimer's risk for people who already have a genetic predisposition toward developing the degenerative disease, although it is too early to know for sure if there is some definite sort of interaction between the faulty gene and the chemical, or whether it simply poses an individual risk for Alzheimer's in certain people.”
On a side note, several studies in the US, Canada and Sweden have also linked DDT and DDE to diabetes, noting that “the prevalence of the disease in a population increases with serum DDT or DDE levels.”
At present, the only country known to still be producing the chemical is India, where it is used to control mosquitoes carrying malaria.
For more information check out Richardson’s report in the current online issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Neurology.