dementia
The epidemic of dementia and Alzheimer's Disease effects countless numbers of families worldwide, mine included. In an effort to understand the root cause of this relatively new phenomenon, I spent over 80 hours reading through scores of research studies and the data that I uncovered may startle you, but also give you hope. Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease is not "normal" or our fate. There are clear causative factors which can be mitigated once you understand them. There is a lot of information to cover so this exposé is being presented make it easier to digest.

It is estimated that more than 5 million people in the US currently have Alzheimer's disease, the 6th leading cause of death in the US. Those numbers don't include other types of dementia. The Alzheimer's Association further states that 1 in 3 seniors will have one form of dementia or another when they die. [1] These numbers are staggering and expected to grow as the baby boomers age. We are so used to the elderly being afflicted by dementia that many accept it's our fate, as if our minds have an expiration date. However, as the World Health Organization and Alzheimer's Association explain, older age may be a risk factor, but dementia actually isn't a normal part of aging. [1, 2]

Much is written about how to diagnose, treat, and manage dementias, as well as warning signs and risk factors. But that's not what I want to discuss in this 3-part series. Instead, I want to talk about the "elephant in the room" namely the correlations between dementia, heavy metal toxicity, and microbes. Many in the scientific community agree that there should be more research into these areas, but did you know that there already has been a great deal of research completed with compelling results? Probably not, because it's not routinely discussed in the doctor's office or mainstream media. This series will take a look at the relationship between dementia and just two toxic metals, mercury and aluminum, as well as the role microbes may play. However, lead, arsenic, cadmium, and copper in our environment may also be entering our bodies and causing harm to our brains and central nervous systems.

Mercury as a Neurotoxin

There is no question that mercury is a neurotoxin, in fact one of the most toxic substances on the planet, with no safe level of exposure. [3] It has been established that mercury can pass through the blood brain barrier, and accumulate in the brain. [4] Studies have found elevated levels of mercury in the brains of deceased Alzheimer's patients. [5, 6, 7] However, this mercury toxicity may not be detected in a living dementia or A.D. patient because mercury levels in the blood, urine, and hair don't indicate if there is mercury stored in the brain; an autopsy is the only way to determine this. [7]

In 2010, a team of academic researchers from the US and Germany conducted a comprehensive and systematic review of studies already completed on this topic. They reported "Thirty-two studies, out of forty testing memory in individuals exposed to inorganic mercury, found significant memory deficits". [6] One of the researchers, Professor Deth, a now retired professor of pharmacology at Northeastern University's Bouvé College of Health Sciences stated, "Mercury is clearly contributing to neurological problems, whose rate is increasing in parallel with rising levels of mercury. It seems that the two are tied together." [8]

Dr. Boyd Haley, Retired Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry, University of Kentucky has extensively researched the connection between mercury and Alzheimer's and found "extended mercury exposure to neurons in culture has been shown to produce three of the widely accepted pathological diagnostic hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. These are elevated amyloid protein, hyper-phosphorylation of Tau, and formation of neurofibrillary tangles". [9]

Amalgam Fillings

Even though the neurotoxic effects of mercury are clearly known, we continue to be exposed to this poisonous substance in various forms. One common source of mercury exposure is through the use of dental amalgam fillings. When a person has amalgam fillings, mercury is continuously emitted as a vapor. This vapor is easily inhaled into the lungs and then absorbed into the bloodstream. Through the bloodstream mercury reaches various parts of the body, including the brain, and is retained. [10, 11] Some researchers have found a correlation between the number of amalgam fillings present, and the amount of mercury present in the brain. [7, 11, 12]

However, other studies found that the number of amalgams and amount of stored mercury isn't always easily correlated because some people are able to clear the metal from their brain easier than others; Dr. Haley stated, "the inability to excrete mercury may play a major role in the build up of brain mercury levels over many years." [13] The elderly tend to have a harder time detoxing.

Patients aren't the only ones suffering the consequences of these toxic fillings. The Scientific Committee of the European Commission found that, "In most studies available, mercury exposure in dental clinics resulted in significant adverse health effects in dental workers". Even 30 years later, 15% of dentists and assistants, "showed increased mercury induced neurological deficits" [7] Dr. Matt Young, President of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology has said, "Mercury must seriously be considered as a causal agent of Alzheimer's. It is imperative that the National Institute of Health fund realistic research regarding the mercury Alzheimer's connection, which heretofore has for the most part been ignored." [14] To make matters worse, "Exposure of patients with amalgam restorations to radio frequency radiation emitted from conventional Wi-Fi devices can increase mercury release from amalgam restorations". [15, 16]

Most dentists in the US have switched to less toxic materials, but for 150+ years untold numbers of people had mouthfuls of cavities filled with mercury amalgams including our current senior population and aging baby boomers. If you don't have these toxic fillings you are still being effected by them through the environment. Lack of EPA regulations has allowed dentists to dump tons of mercury into our sewers every year since the beginning of their use. These lax controls have allowed mercury to spread into rivers and streams, into the air through sludge incineration, and even onto cropland when used as fertilizer. Also, the cremation of the deceased with amalgam fillings releases mercury into the air. [17]

The FDA and ADA have continued to downplay these concerns, even as other countries ban or phase out dental amalgams completely; the WHO and United Nations Environmental Programme have both voiced serious concerns about mercury exposure. [18,19] So what does the ADA say about all this? Dr. Mark Breiner, author of Whole Body Dentistry, explains "the American Dental Association remained adamant that mercury in patients' mouths is safe, and, in 1988 it changed its code of ethics making it unethical for a dentist to recommend the removal of amalgam because of mercury". [20, 21]

Other Sources of Mercury
  • Fish and seafood; mercury bioaccumulates so tends to be present in higher amounts in larger, longer-living predatory species
  • Adult and child flu vaccines contain an ethyl-mercury preservative called thimerosal; other children's vaccines contained this preservative until the FDA banned it in 1998 [22]
  • Fluorescent light bulbs, including the now popular energy saving compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL), which international programs wish to phase out [19]
  • Mercury thermometers and other measuring devices
  • Burning coal, and mining gold releases mercury into the environment
In past centuries, hats were cured with mercurous nitrate creating a widespread occupational exposure and "mad hatters" syndrome. Those wearing these mercury laced hats also were exposed but at lower levels. Unbelievable as it may seem, from the 17th to 19th centuries, mercury pills and elixirs were common to treat syphilis, and also were routinely prescribed as health and longevity tonics causing deleterious effects and even death.

Resources

[1] 2016 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures Alzheimer's Association, pages 17, 26, 10
[2] 10 Facts on Dementia World Health Organization
[3] Bose-O'Reilly S, McCarty K, Steckling N, Lettmeier B (2011) Mercury Exposure and Children's Health Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Healthcare
[4] Aschner M, Aschner J (1990) Mercury neurotoxicity: mechanisms of blood-brain barrier transport Neuroscience Biobehavioral Review
[5] Mutter J, Naumann J, Sadaghiani C, Schneider R, Walach H (2004) Alzheimer disease: mercury as pathogenetic factor and apolipoprotein E as a moderator Neuroendocrinology Letters
[6] Mutter J, Curth A, Naumann J, Deth R, Walach H (2010) Does Inorganic Mercury Play a Role in Alzheimer's Disease? Journal of Alzheimer's Disease
[7] Mutter J (2011) Is dental amalgam safe for humans? The opinion of the scientific committee of the European Commission Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology
[8] Kornwitz J (2010) Research Suggests Mercury Linked to Dementia News@Northeastern
[9] Haley B (2002) The Relationship of Toxic Effects of Mercury to Exacerbation of the Medical Condition classified as Alzheimer's Disease
[10] Lorscheider FL, Vimy MJ, Summers AO (1995) Mercury exposure from "silver" tooth fillings: emerging evidence questions a traditional dental paradigm FASB Journal
[11] Health Canada: The Safety of Dental Amalgam (1996), page 4
[12] Eggleston DW, Nylander M (1987) Correlation of dental amalgam with mercury in brain tissue Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry
[13] Haley, B Mercury toxicity: Genetic susceptibility and synergetic effects (2005), pages 540-41
[14] Mercury Linked To Alzheimer's Disease (2010) International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology
[15] Effect of radiofrequency radiation from Wi-Fi devices on mercury release from amalgam restorations (2016) Journal of Environmental Health Science and Engineering
[16] Increased Release of Mercury from Dental Amalgam Fillings due to Maternal Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields as a Possible Mechanism for the High Rates of Autism in the Offspring: Introducing a Hypothesis (2016) Journal of Biomedical Physics and Engineering
[17] Dental group defends mercury fillings amid mounting evidence of risks (2016) McClatchy DC
[18] Exposure to Mercury a Public Health Concern (2007) WHO
[19] Minamata Convention on Mercury (2013) UN Environmental Programme, page 46
[20] Breiner M (2011) Whole Body Dentistry: A Complete Guide to Understanding the Impact of Dentistry on Total Health, page 48
[21] American Dental Association Code of Professional Ethics, Section 5.A.1
[22] Vaccine Ingredients - Thimerosol Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Aluminum and Microbes: Research Linking these Factors to Dementia

Aluminum

In 2011, The International Journal of Alzheimer's Disease published a study stating, "It is widely accepted that aluminum is a recognized neurotoxin, and that it could cause cognitive deficiency and dementia when it enters the brain and may have various adverse effects on the CNS." [1] It has been confirmed that aluminum crosses the blood brain barrier, enters the brain, and accumulates. [1, 2] In fact, researchers have found, "the most prominent aluminum accumulations occur within the neurofibrillary tangle itself". [3, 4] In the past, aluminum toxicity was an issue for dialysis patients when aluminum was not removed from the water used during treatment. The Clinic for Neurology and Psychiatry, Institute of Medical Biochemistry, and Medical Clinic of the University of Graz in Austria studied this concern and wrote "It can be concluded from our finding that in dialyzed patients there is a correlation between serum aluminum levels and the appearance of dementia and EEG changes." [5] A publication in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease written by a scientist from the Neural Dynamics Research Group, University of British Columbia concluded, "The hypothesis that aluminum significantly contributes to Alzheimer's is built upon very solid experimental evidence and should not be dismissed. Immediate steps should be taken to lessen human exposure to aluminum, which may be the single most aggravating and avoidable factor related to Alzheimer's Disease". [6] Researchers from Toronto General Hospital concluded, "The evidence thus far indicates that aluminum is toxic to the brain and it is probable that it has a pathogenic role in Alzheimer's disease". [2] In areas where there is elevated aluminum in drinking water, there is a higher incidence of AD. [7] Professor Chris Exley from Keele University in England has been researching aluminum for over 30 years, his nickname is Mr. Aluminum. In one of his research articles published in Frontiers in Neurology, he makes the case that "an individual's exposure to aluminum is impacting upon their health and is already contributing to, if not causing, chronic diseases such as Alzheimer's disease." [8] Two scientists from the University of British Columbia have also studied this exposure and in one of their publications stated, "The literature demonstrates clearly negative impacts of aluminum on the nervous system across the age span. In adults, aluminum exposure can lead to apparently age-related neurological deficits resembling Alzheimer's and has been linked to this disease". [9]

As far as sources of aluminum, childhood vaccines are responsible for a significant early exposure. Approximately 17 of the vaccines administered by the age of 18 months contain an aluminum adjuvant. Proponents claim that the exposure is lower than what is ingested through food and not an issue. But research into how the aluminum adjuvant responds when injected into muscle shows a different story. An article published in Frontiers in Neurology stated, "poorly biodegradable aluminum-coated particles injected into muscle are promptly phagocytosed in muscle and the draining lymph nodes, and can disseminate within phagocytic cells throughout the body and slowly accumulate in brain. This strongly suggests that long-term adjuvant biopersistence within phagocytic cells is a prerequisite for slow brain translocation and delayed neurotoxicity." [10] In other words, injecting children with vaccines containing aluminum isn't as benign as proponents would like us to believe.

Other sources of aluminum exposure in our daily lives include: most antiperspirants, toothpastes containing aluminum oxides, most cosmetics, infant formula, beverages in cans, antacids and aspirin, black and green teas, baking powders unless labeled aluminum-free, many non-dairy creamers, processed cheeses such as American cheese, most pickles, table salt, aluminum foil, aluminum pots and pans, throw away aluminum pans/containers, foil wrapped candies and other products, aluminum siding, vehicle emissions, emissions from manufacturing facilities and other industrial activities, and water that has been purified using aluminum sulphate.

The Stacking of Heavy Metal Exposures

Heavy metal exposures build up over our lifetime, potentially starting in the womb since mercury, aluminum and other metals can cross the placenta. [11, 12, 13] The EPA states that when mercury passes from mother to fetus, "this exposure can adversely affect unborn infants' growing brains and nervous systems". [14] The National Research Council's Committee on the Toxicological Effects of Methylmercury estimates that over 60,000 infants are born annually at risk for adverse neurodevelpmental effects because of being exposed to methylmercury in utero when the mother consumes contaminated fish and seafood. [15] Mothers can also pass mercury and aluminum to their infants through breastmilk. [11, 16, 17, 18]. Infant formula is no panacea, however, since it is often contaminated with aluminum. [19] When exposed to heavy metals in utero, through breastmilk or formula, and through vaccines - the immediate concerns are more related to disturbed neurological development and resulting disorders which may include autism. For adult populations that have been chronically exposed, the concern is that dementia will be the end result of the accumulation of heavy metals over the course of a lifetime. The storage of heavy metals in the brain is elevated in individuals that do not excrete them efficiently.

Microbes

Dr. Haley, whose work was mentioned earlier, found there to be "synergistic toxicity" in most cases involving mercury, other heavy metals, organic-mercury compounds such as the thimerosal found in vaccines, and microbes. [20] His concept of heavy metal and microbe combinations creating synergistic toxicity is intriguing. But Dr. Haley isn't the only researcher finding a connection between AD and microbes. In February of 2016, an international group of thirty-three researchers published an editorial in the Journal of Alzheimer's proposing microbes play a role in causing the disease. These 33 researchers point out that at least 100 studies have already been conducted "implicating specific microbes in the elderly brain, notably herpes simplex". [21] Since microbes and heavy metals are shown to interact in the environment, my question is, could it be possible that microbes in the brain benefit from metals also being present, feeding off of the metals in some way? [22, 23] I hope research will be funded to study this possibility.

Why Aren't the Alarms being Sounded?

Since research indicates mercury, aluminum, (other heavy metals), and microbes are individually or in concert causative factors in dementia, you may be wondering why more people don't know . . . why the alarms haven't been sounding loud and clear. You may be wondering why there hasn't been a big push to remove these exposures from our lives. You're probably wondering why those diagnosed with dementia (and their families) aren't being told of these correlations. Maybe it's because this information isn't being taught in medical school yet, and doctors aren't keeping up with the research data. But why isn't this being taught in medical school? Dr. Exley (aka Mr. Aluminum) has stated, "The most significant factor driving complacency about the potential dangers of aluminum is its omnipresence in modern life". [24] Look around you, aluminum is everywhere, who wants to be the first to admit we are poisoning ourselves with our addiction to all of the products aluminum provides? Industry propaganda doesn't make it any easier. In the case of mercury, it may be just too inconvenient to the dental profession to admit this danger, especially because of the litigation that is sure to follow. The vaccine manufacturers certainly don't want these dangers to become accepted because of the pandora's box it would open. And as far as evidence that herpetic virus' are found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, your guess is as good as mine as to why this topic isn't being given focused attention. A researcher recently confided that there are influential people in this field who are hostile to the concept of a viral role in Alzheimer's Disease, making it difficult to secure funding for clinical trials. But while these causations are ignored, worldwide the number of people with dementia is expected to reach 75.6 million in 2030, and 135.5 million in 2050. [25] This information needs to be shouted from the rooftops; it is urgent, obvious, and critical.

Resources

[1] Kawahara M, Kato-Negishi M (2011)Link between Aluminum and the Pathogenesis of Alzheimer's Disease International Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, Section 4
[2] Krishnan SS, McLachlan DR, Krishnan B, Fenton SS, Harrison JE (1988) Aluminum toxicity to the brain Science of the Total Environment
[3] Perl DP, Good PF (1992) Aluminium and the neurofibrillary tangle: results of tissue microprobe studies Ciba Foundation Symposium
[4] Good PF, Perl DP, Bierer LM, Schmeidler J (1992) Selective accumulation of aluminum and iron in the neurofibrillary tangles of Alzheimer's disease: a laser microprobe (LAMMA) study Annals of Neurology
[5] Ladurner G, Wawschinek O, Pogglitsch H, Petek W, Urlesberger H, Holzr H (1982) Neurophysiological Finding and Serum Aluminum in Dialysis Encephalopathy
[6] Tomljenovic L (2011) Aluminum and Alzheimer's Disease: After a Century of Controversy is there a Plausible Link? Journal of Alzheimer's Disease
[7] Rondeau V, Commenges D, Jacqmin-Gadda H, Dartigues H (2008) Relation between aluminum concentrations in drinking water and Alzheimer's disease: an 8-year follow-up study American Journal of Epidemiology
[8] Exley C Why industry propaganda and political interference cannot disguise the inevitable role played by human exposure to aluminum in neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease Frontiers in Neurology
[9] Shaw C, Tomljenovic L (2013) Aluminum in the central nervous system (CNS): toxicity in humans and animals, vaccine adjuvants, and autoimmunity Immunologic Research
[10] Gherardi RK, Eidi H, Crépeaux G, Authier FJ, Cadusseau J (2015) Biopersistence and Brain Translocation of Aluminum Adjuvants of Vaccines Frontiers in Neurology
[11] Mutter J (2011) Is dental amalgam safe for humans? The opinion of the scientific committee of the European Commission Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology
[12] Bedir Findik R, Celik H, Ersoy AO, Tasci Y, Moraloglu O, Karakaya J (2016) Mercury concentration in maternal serum, cord blood, and placenta in patients with amalgam dental fillings: effects on fetal biometric measurements Journal of Maternal Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
[13] Kruger PC, Schell LM, Stark AD, Parsons PJ (2010) A study of the distribution of aluminum in human placental tissues based on alkaline solubilization with determination by electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry Metallomics: Royal Society of Chemistry
[14] EPA: Health Effects of Exposures to Mercury
[15] National Research Council 2000: Toxicological Effects of Methylmercury page 4
[16] Oskarsson A, Schültz A, Skerfving S, Hallén IP, Ohlin B, Lagerkvist BJ (1996) Total and inorganic mercury in breast milk in relation to fish consumption and amalgam in lactating women Archives Environmental Health
[17] Bose-O'Reilly S, McCarty K, Steckling N, Lettmeier B (2010) Mercury Exposure and Children's Health Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Healthcare
[18] Dórea J (2014) Aluminium Concentrations in Human Milk: Additional Comments on Exposure Issues in the Neonate Pediatrics and Neonatology
[19] Fanni D, Ambu R, Gerosa C, Nemolato S, Iacovidou N, Van Eyken P, Fanos V, Zaffanello M, Faa G (2014) Aluminum exposure and toxicity in neonates: a practical guide to halt aluminum overload in the prenatal and perinatal periods World Journal of Pediatrics
[20] Haley, B Mercury toxicity: Genetic susceptibility and synergetic effects (2005), pages 540-41
[21] Itzhaki R, Lathe R, Balin B, Ball M, Bearer E, Braak H, Bullido M, Carter C, Clerici M, Cosby SL, Del Tredici K, Field H, Fulop T, Grassi C, Griffin S, Haas J, Hudson A,
Kamer A, Kell D, Licastro F, Letenneur L, Lovheim H, Mancuso R, Miklossy J, Otth C,
Palamara AT, Perry G, Preston C, Pretorius E, Strandberg T, Tabet N, Taylor-Robinson S, Whittum-Hudson J (2016) Microbes and Alzheimer's Disease Journal of Alzheimer's Disease
[22] Cervantes C, Espino-Saldaña AE, Acevedo-Aguilar F, León-Rodriguez IL, Rivera-Cano ME, Avila-Rodríguez M, Wróbel-Kaczmarczyk K, Wróbel-Zasada K, Gutiérrez-Corona JF, Rodríguez-Zavala JS, Moreno-Sánchez R 2006 Microbial interactions with heavy metals Latin American Journal of Microbiology
[23] Engineered Bacteria Mop Up Mercury Spills (2011) Science Daily
[24] Exley C Why industry propaganda and political interference cannot disguise the inevitable role played by human exposure to aluminum in neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease Frontiers in Neurology
[25] 2016 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures Alzheimer's Association, pages 17, 26, 10

About the author

Judy DeLorenzo is a holistic health practitioner, garden foodie, and daycare founder. She has a deep understanding that food is medicine and "we are what we eat" so we should treat our bodies with respect by eating pure, whole, super nutritious foods. She loves to grow and shop for food, create recipes, cook, take food photos, and share the process with clients, her social media audience, family, and friends. You can learn more about Judy's healing practice at Biofield Healing and enjoy her blog posts at A Life Well Planted. Read all of Judy's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.