Copper pipes could cause people over 50 to contract Alzheimer's and place them at risk of heart disease, a new study has found.
Scientists have warned people to remove old copper pipes from their homes because the metal has been shown to build up in their bodies and cause serious health problems.
The found that tiny traces of copper from pipes mix with tap water and are then consumed by people.
Over a long period of time this leads to a build up of copper in the body which then led to Alzheimer's disease, heart disease and diabetes because the body cannot process the metal.
The study found people over 50 should also avoid vitamin and mineral pills that contain cooper and iron, lowering meat intake and avoid drinking water from copper pipes.
They should also donate blood regularly to reduce iron levels and taking zinc supplements to lower copper levels.
Copper and iron are essential when people are young as they help during the years when people are trying to have children.
But the body can no longer process them effectively when people move beyond 50 years old.
The study from the American Chemical Society's Toxicology journal found that people were at risk from copper as they aged.
Lead researcher George Brewer said the study had wide ranging implications for health authorities.
'Their toxicities are so general in the population that they are a looming public health problem in diseases of aging and in the aging process itself,' he said.
Mr Brewer said diseases of Alzheimer's disease and heart disease were made worse by excess copper and iron.
'A very disturbing finding of this study is that in the general population those in the highest fifth of copper intake, if they are also eating a relatively high fat diet, lose their brain function at over three times the normal rate,' he said.