Science and Tech


Study Links Alzheimer's Disease With Pesticide DDT

Researchers found people with Alzheimer's disease had an average of four times the amount of DDE, a product of DDT, in their blood.
Posted at 6:53 PM, Jan 28, 2014

A new study suggests the connection between Alzheimer's in elderly adults and the pesticide DDT might be a strong one.

Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine studied 86 people with Alzheimer's and 79 without. They measured the amount of DDE, which comes from DDT, in their blood and found those with Alzheimer's had four times the amount of those without. (Via CBS, JAMA Neurology)

According to the BBC, the study also showed that when brain cells were exposed to a lot of DDT or DDE, they saw the development of more amyloid plaque in the brain, which is thought to be a cause of the disease. (Via BBC)

The lead author, Dr. Allan Levey, said this is one of the first studies to identify an environmental risk factor for the disease.

"The magnitude of the effect is strikingly large — it is comparable in size to the most common genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer's." (Via BBC)

But a writer for Forbes approaches the findings with caution, saying there are other factors that could play into triggering the disease.

"Genetics is one. It may be that people who have a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer's disease are somehow pushed over the edge with higher exposure to environmental toxins."

DDT was used as a pesticide dating back to the 1940s and wasn't banned until 1972. It's still used in other countries to control mosquitoes and reduce the risk of malaria. (Via KCAL)

The study says Alzheimer's disease cases are set to increase threefold over the next four decades.