Pesticide in dementia link

DDT has been banned for decades, but it was once so widely used that you've almost certainly been exposed.

And odds are, you still have some in your body right now.

It's not sitting there quietly, either, because as DDT breaks down into DDE in your body, it could be doing damage to your brain -- which is why one new study finds that higher blood levels of DDE can boost the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Overall, Alzheimer's patients have 3.8 times the blood levels of DDE when compared to patients the same age who have no signs of cognitive problems. The link works the other way, too: Patients with the highest blood levels of DDE also have four times the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

While we need more research to know for sure if there's a link between this pesticide and dementia, I think there's more than enough smoke here to cause a pretty big fire.

Animal studies have shown that DDT can cross the blood-brain barrier. We also know that DDT seems to cause amyloid beta plaques, or the buildups found in the brains of dementia and Alzheimer's patients.

It seems like the higher your levels of DDT, the more plaques you have. And the more plaques you have, the more likely you are to plunge into the cycle of cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

The one complicating factor here is genetics. The new study finds that if you have a higher genetic risk for Alzheimer's, the DDT can worsen it and speed you on the path toward disease.

And if you have a low genetic risk, the DDT may not be as harmful (at least when it comes to dementia).

Whatever your risk, you might be tempted to think that this study isn't much to worry about. After all, DDT is no longer used in the United States.

But that doesn't mean you're in the clear. Odds are, you've already been exposed -- and there's a good chance you'll continue to be exposed in at least three major ways.

First, DDT is still in the soil and water in many parts of the United States, especially agricultural regions, even 40 years after it was banned.

Second, other nations still use DDT -- including some that supply the dirt-cheap produce and frozen foods that fill our supermarkets.

And third, any DDT you've been exposed to in the past could still be in your body today. Studies have shown it can remain inside you for a decade.

Put it all together, and you can see why close to 80 percent of us have measurable levels of DDT and DDE in the blood right now.

But no matter how you've been exposed, there are two steps you can take today that can help limit your exposure and safely eliminate what's in your body.

Step #1: Eat only locally grown organic vegetables, and drink only water that's been filtered with either reverse osmosis or a distiller.

This will also help eliminate exposure to other dangerous chemicals, drugs, metals and pesticides found in food and water. And of course, you'll eat better and healthier foods when you go organic.

Step #2: If you're concerned, get yourself tested for exposure to DDT and other chemicals by a holistic doctor. The same doctor can also help customize a diet for you rich in naturally detoxifying foods such as cruciferous vegetables, which can help your body to rid itself of harmful chemicals and metals.