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High Levels of DDT Linked to Alzheimer’s Cases

February 20, 2014
Public Health

DDTA study of patients in Georgia and Texas has found that people with high exposure to the banned insecticide DDT were four times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. The research is thought to be the first of its kind to link the development of the world’s most common neurodegenerative disease to environmental influences.

Banned almost 40 years ago, DDT still persists in the environment and is still used to combat malaria in many parts of Africa.

More than five million people in the US are living with Alzheimer’s, with cases expected to triple in the coming years. Scientists drew their conclusions from blood samples taken from patients undergoing treatment for late onset Alzheimer’s. The results came as a surprise to the study’s co-author Alan Levy, director of Emory University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centre, who said, “The association between elevated DDE levels and Alzheimer’s disease risk was as great or greater than the strongest genetic risk factor known.”

The research also found that individuals with both risk factors, a high exposure and genetic susceptibility had generally developed a more severe form of the disease. DDT has previously been linked with reduced fertility, diabetes and other health effects but little has been known so far about its effects on the brain. 

You can view a copy of the study here