1. DDT linked to Alzheimer's disease

    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.

  2. Pesticides and Parkinson's

    You've heard me tell you to watch what you put into your body.

    But what you put into your body isn't just limited to what you eat and drink. Many of the toxins we're exposed to gain entry through our environment.

    And some environments are more hazardous than others.

    A new study shows that regular on-the-job exposure to pesticides increases your risk for Parkinson's disease.

    The study, published in June in the Annals of Neurology, doesn't identify the cause of Parkinson's so much as a risk factor that we all need to be aware of – especially those of us who work around these chemicals.

    French researchers followed 800 adults, some with Parkinson's disease and somewithout, who worked on farms and in the course of their jobs were exposed to fungicides, herbicides and insecticides.

    While the researchers found an increased risk between occupational exposure to pesticides and the risk of developing Parkinson's disease, the highest risk came among those who worked around insecticides, especially organochlorine insecticides such as DDT.

    In fact, men who worked with organochlorine insecticides had twice the risk as men with no on-the-job exposure. Even more significantly, the Parkinson's risk increased as a worker's exposure to these chemicals increased.

    The study did not look at any impact pesticides around the home may have on Parkinson's risk.

    This is not the first study to come up with this kind of link.

    Lab research, including a study published in Nature Neurscience back in 2000, has found that rats injected with the insecticide rotenone are more likely to develop an animal equivalent of the disease.

    The French researchers say the overall risk of getting Parkinson's is still small, even among workers exposed regularly to insecticide.

    But if you're concerned about risk factors, this one is hard to ignore. If you work with these chemicals, limit your direct exposure as much as possible and follow all the proper safety procedures when handling them. When you do this kind of work for a living, there's always a danger of complacency, so remain vigilant.

    For the rest of us, it's a good time to take a look at everything we're exposed to on a regular basis, especially those chemicals you've been around so much you've stopped noticing them.

    Toxins can cause a number of illnesses, diseases and conditions, and the challenge isn't just identifying them – but avoiding them, day after day.

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