Alzheimer’s risk elevated by exposure to DDT • Earth.com

Alzheimer’s risk elevated by exposure to DDT

08-17-2022

Today’s Video of the Day from Florida International University describes the results of a new study which confirms a link between the pesticide DDT to Alzheimer’s disease.

The research, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, reveals that the environmental pollutant DDT causes increased amounts of toxic amyloid beta, which forms plaques in the brain that are found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

“The vast majority of research on the disease has been on genetics – and genetics are very important – but the genes that actually cause the disease are very rare,” explained study co-author Jason Richardson, professor at FIU’s Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work.

“Environmental risk factors like exposure to DDT are modifiable. So, if we understand how DDT affects the brain, then perhaps we could target those mechanisms and help the people who have been highly exposed.”

The experts noted that DDT was extensively used between the 1940s and 1970s to combat insect-borne diseases like malaria and treat crop and livestock production. Individuals who were highly exposed to this pesticide are now at ages with a higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. 

While DDT is now banned in the United States, exposure is still possible through legacy contamination or imported foods, explained the researchers.

Based on their findings, the experts will now begin to test therapeutic drugs with the potential to reduce toxic amyloid accumulation.

Video Credit: Florida International University

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer

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