The Link Between Environmental Factors and Alzheimer’s Disease

Authored by Samantha Barrionuevo, MPH Candidate at Slippery Rock University

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month. Unfortunately, most of us know someone that has been affected by this fatal disease. According to the American Brain Foundation, Alzheimer’s is an irreversible brain disease that accounts for 60-80% of dementia. It affects thinking, memory, and the ability to complete everyday tasks. There is currently no cure. Although research shows that Alzheimer’s disease is mostly a genetic condition, the other 30% is said to be attributable to lifestyle factors and environmental risk factors.  

 

Environmental factors include:  

  • exposure to toxic metals 
  • pesticides 
  • industrial chemicals 
  • anti-microbials 
  • air pollution 

 

Some of the toxic metals that have been related to Alzheimer’s disease include aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead, cobalt and copper. These can be found in drinking water, food, cigarette smoke, lead-based paint, soil, air, household products and other sources.  It might be a good idea to have your drinking water tested and to consider using a water filter. Investing in safe non-toxic personal care products and purchasing a home purifier to rid the air of toxic heavy metals is just another way of investing in your health.    

 

Exposure to certain pesticides and insecticides through food and water has been associated with significant risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. Remember to thoroughly wash all produce, even if it is labeled organic. Growing your own produce could be a fun, cost-efficient, and effective way of helping the environment. If you do give it a go, try using natural pest control tactics.

Industrial chemicals contaminate the air, water, soil and food.  Byproducts of chemical manufacturing have been linked to numerous health effects including Alzheimer’s disease. Because these chemicals can leak into our food sources, you can limit exposure by thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables. BPA is another chemical sometimes used in plastic bottles and food cans. You can limit your exposure by nixing the canned food and plastic containers.  

Anti-microbials can be found in preservatives, medicines, and personal care products. You might be thinking why are they on the list – don’t they prevent the spread of disease? They do, but overuse leads to anti-microbial resistance. Furthermore, these products contain immunotoxin and neurotoxic compounds with brain-damaging properties. Anti-microbial soaps contain endocrine disrupting chemicals which leads to infertility, thyroid issues, obesity, and cancer.  Over-use of anti-microbial cleaning products and disinfectants is not healthy or effective. So, skip the chemical-laden soaps and stick to regular soap and water! 

Lastly, researchers have found air pollution to be a cause of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. Did you know that idling your car for more than 10 seconds causes more air pollution than just turning it off and on again? You can do your part by avoiding excessive idling and carpooling, walking, biking, or riding public transportation.  

Additional Resources:

Natural pest control tactics links to https://learn.eartheasy.com/guides/natural-garden-pest-control/#prevention 

Non-toxic personal care products links to: https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ 

Anti-microbials can be found in preservatives, medicines, and personal care products. You might be thinking why are they on the list – don’t they prevent the spread of disease? They do, but overuse leads to anti-microbial resistance. Furthermore, these products contain immunotoxin and neurotoxic compounds with brain-damaging properties. Anti-microbial soaps contain endocrine disrupting chemicals which leads to infertility, thyroid issues, obesity, and cancer.  Over-use of anti-microbial cleaning products and disinfectants is not healthy or effective. So, skip the chemical-laden soaps and stick to regular soap and water! 

Lastly, researchers have found air pollution to be a cause of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. Did you know that idling your car for more than 10 seconds causes more air pollution than just turning it off and on again? You can do your part by avoiding excessive idling and carpooling, walking, biking, or riding public transportation.  

Additional Resources:

Natural pest control tactics links to https://learn.eartheasy.com/guides/natural-garden-pest-control/#prevention 

Non-toxic personal care products links to: https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ 

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