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Heavy Metals – A Risk for Alzheimer’s?

For years we’ve been seeing scientific literature describe the various health risks associated with having elevated levels of (potentially) toxic heavy metals. The reason this information is so important is because it opens the door to a discussion about both prevention and treatment for the associated diseases.

Certainly, one disease that draws interest from both perspectives is Alzheimer’s disease. Indeed, while the actual cause, or more appropriately causes, of this dreaded disease remains hidden, there’s been discussion over the years that having higher levels of various heavy metals may be playing a role.

To explore this relationship, a team of Chinese and American researchers reviewed a vast amount of scientific research to determine if there exists any valid relationship between higher blood levels of various heavy metals and the risk for developing Alzheimer’s. Their comprehensive meta-analysis focused on aluminum, mercury, cadmium, and lead.

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Is Gluten-Free Toxic?

I’ve been getting a lot of e-mail and social media messages over the past few weeks about a recent publication that purports that going off gluten-containing foods will increase a person’s risk of arsenic and mercury toxicity.

The report, appearing in Science Daily, has clearly caused a stir amongst the gluten-free community. I mean after all, who wants to be poisoned, and from the sound of things, going off gluten might be doing just that! Continue reading

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Air Pollution and Risk for Dementia

One of the central themes of this blog centers on the importance of various lifestyle factors as they relate to brain health. We live at a time when there is, as of yet, no specific treatment or cure for our most-feared degenerative conditions of the brain, like Alzheimer’s disease. So it is fundamentally important that we embrace the notion of prevention as it relates to brain degeneration. This is why we’ve had such strong emphasis on things like diet, exercise, sleep, and social engagement. Continue reading

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How Lifestyle Choices May Affect ALS Risk

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is almost uniformly fatal and is only increasing in incidence. While no one has as yet been able to pinpoint what may cause this disease, a new report published in the journal, JAMA Neurology offers up some important clues.

The study evaluated blood samples from 156 individuals with confirmed ALS and compared them to blood samples from 128 similarly aged controls. Blood concentrations of 122 environmental pollutants were studied, including organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and brominated flame retardants (BFRs), using highly sophisticated techniques including gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. To be sure, these chemicals are directly toxic to the nervous system and are highly persistent in the environment, as well as in the human body Continue reading

How About a Broccoli Detox?

By: Austin Perlmutter, MD, Medical Student, Miller School of Medicine

Since childhood we’ve been told to eat our broccoli, a request usually based on the claim that “it’s good for you.” Though we now have substantial research to back up this statement, new data from Johns Hopkins scientists may be one of the best reasons to keep this vegetable on the top of our shopping lists.

Recently, broccoli has been the subject of many papers on cancer prevention. Containing a unique chemical called sulforaphane, broccoli helps fight off malignant cells in the body. But now, researchers have taken this property one step further. This fascinating data measures the ability of broccoli to detoxify the body of cancer-inducing chemicals before they get a chance to cause problems.  

In this new study, published in the journal Cancer Prevention, scientists selected participants living in an area of China with substantial air pollution. They first assessed the amount of pollutant found in the participant’s urine, and then assigned some participants to consume a beverage made of broccoli sprouts. Afterward, the scientists found that people who drank the broccoli beverage were able to get rid of substantially higher levels of the environmental pollutants than those who did not. Continue reading

Another Important Threat Posed by GMO Food

Let’s put our conversation about the dangers of GMO foods aside for a moment and consider why so much of America’s agricultural production is now centered on the use of genetically modified seed.

One of the biggest problems faced by farmers is the intrusion of weeds into their production fields. So rather than having to resort to manually removing weeds from farmer’s fields, a wonderful alternative has been created. America’s farmers now resort to spraying a weed-killing chemical, glyphosate (RoundUp®) on their crops. And what prevents the harvested crop from also being targeted by the herbicide is the fact that the seeds used in crop production are the genetically modified in such a way as to be resistant to the herbicide’s effects. In the world of agriculture these seeds are known as “RoundUp® ready.”

There’s plenty to be concerned about in terms of the GMO part of this story, but for now, understand that the use of RoundUp® ready GMO seeds has paved the way for farmers to use huge amounts of this herbicide. And it’s happening globally. It is estimated that by 2017 farmers will apply 1.35 million metric tons of glyphosate to their crops.  Continue reading