Mercury likely plays a role in the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD), according to a review of relevant scientific literature published this month in The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. Dr. Joachim Mutter of Germany, Dr. Richard Deth of the United States, and other esteemed researchers collaborated on the groundbreaking article Does Inorganic Mercury Play a Role in Alzheimer's Disease? A Systematic Review and an Integrated Molecular Mechanism, which clarifies the need for continuing research to understand the cause of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's.
“The structure of the genetic risk protein for Alzheimer's disease, called APO-E4, shows it has lost the ability to bind and remove mercury from the cerebrospinal fluid, the fluid that bathes the brain, when compared to the other forms of APO-E protein.”
The authors of the review use numerous peer-reviewed studies to suggest that a genetic predisposition and exposure to a neurotoxin such as mercury have to co-exist for Alzheimer's disease to manifest itself. Dr. Richard Deth, co-author and professor of neuro-pharmacology at Northeastern University in Boston, explains: "Since the brain is more vulnerable to oxidative stress than any other organ, it is not surprising that mercury, which promotes oxidative stress, is an important risk factor for brain disorders." Dr. Deth's motto: "Mercury is bad for the brain."
The research of the former chair of the University of Kentucky's Chemistry Department, Dr. Boyd Haley, is congruent with Drs. Deth and Mutter's findings. Dr. Haley, who has done research on the relationship between mercury and Alzheimer's disease for more than twenty years, states: "Earlier research on the biochemical abnormalities of the Alzheimer's Diseased (AD) brain showed that mercury, and only mercury, at very low levels induced the same biochemical abnormalities when added to normal human brain homogenates or in the brains of rats exposed to mercury vapor."
Insofar as the genetic component, Haley contends: "The structure of the genetic risk protein for Alzheimer's disease, called APO-E4, shows it has lost the ability to bind and remove mercury from the cerebrospinal fluid, the fluid that bathes the brain, when compared to the other forms of APO-E protein."
Mercury has been the subject of controversy in various public health issues over the years, including its use in vaccines and dental amalgam fillings.
Norway, Sweden, and Denmark officially banned the use of mercury in dental fillings based on the Precautionary Principal, a protective doctrine requiring proof of safety -- a doctrine rejected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Prior to these bans, the World Health Organization reported in 1991 that mercury fillings, routinely described as silver fillings to the public, are by far the greatest contribution to mercury in the human body.
This December, the FDA is expected to review scientific literature pertaining to the harmful effects of placing mercury fillings into the body. Scientists and experts in the field will present testimony regarding the relationship between mercury toxicity and neurological diseases, with a special focus on vulnerable populations including children and the unborn. Dr. Haley will be among the scientists presenting.
Lamenting that Alzheimer's has reached epidemic proportions, California's first lady Maria Shriver, in a recent interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, vehemently expressed the need to find the cause of AD, expressing concern that AD "will bankrupt every family in this country." The Alzheimer's Association estimates 172 billion dollars in annual costs to maintain AD patients, which makes it imperative for the cause of AD to be found.
Mutter and Deth's research sheds strong light on the possible root of the sixth leading cause of death in America.
Dr. Matt Young, President of International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), an academy of dental, medical, and research professionals dedicated to safety in health care, which has held a continued focus on mercury's effects, said, "Mercury must seriously be considered as a causal agent of Alzheimer's. It is imperative that the National Institute of Health fund realistic research regarding the mercury Alzheimer's connection, which heretofore has for the most part been ignored."
International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology