A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience last week reports a link between lead exposure and accumulation of Alzheimerâs-type plaque in the brains of primates. The National Institutes of Health-funded study examined the brain tissues of 23-year-old monkeys that had been exposed to lead for the first 400 days of their lives (resulting in blood lead levels of 19â26 Âµg/dl, but no overt signs of toxicity), and found that they had elevated expression of Alzheimerâs-related genes as well as altered levels, characteristics, and distribution of amyloid plaques, which are one of the hallmarks of Alzheimerâs Disease.
The studyâs lead researcher, Dr. Nasser Zawia of the University of Rhode Island, told the Providence Journal that the research is significant because, while heâs found similar results in mice and rats, this is the first time scientists have found the lead-Alzheimerâs link in primates. Zawia and a spokesperson for the Alzheimerâs Association put the results in context for people worried about their own disease risk:
Zawia and a spokesman for the national Alzheimerâs Association cautioned that the study should not prompt lead-poisoning victims or their families to fear that their lead exposure will automatically lead to Alzheimerâs.
Until the last few years, Rhode Island has been a hot bed of lead poisoning. More than 30,000 children have been diagnosed with elevated lead levels since 1991.
âI would say itâs just another factor, another risk factor,â Zawia said in a telephone interview. âItâs like how smoking is a risk factor for cancer. It puts you at greater risk. But there are 100 other things that can intervene between early life and old age. And this does not just apply to lead. Certain other things may lay dormant for many years.â
William H. Thies, vice president of medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimerâs Association in Chicago, called the study âgood, solid basic science,â but he also emphasized âmaking a leap from this paper to saying Alzheimerâs disease is caused by early childhood lead exposures doesnât fit.â
Thies recalled that in the past some people pinpointed aluminum as a cause of Alzheimerâs and many people threw away their aluminum pots and pans before that theory was rejected.
âI predict weâll find no single, monolithic cause,â said Thies. âWe know there are already lots of good reasons for removing lead from the environment. And itâs certainly possible lead is a contributor to Alzheimerâs. But I donât think itâs the answer to solving Alzheimerâs.â
Since we already know that lead poisoning causes serious neurological problems in children â and that even elevated blood-lead levels below the official cutoff are cause for concern â health officials are already motivated to reduce lead exposure, and this finding may not have much effect on prevention efforts. Itâs an important reminder, though, that the substances weâre putting in our environment today might have health effects that wonât become apparent until decades into the future.
4 thoughts on “Lead on the Brain”
Gee, I wonder how many kids with lead exposures
have been diagnosed with ADD and not chelated?
Only to end up a dysfunctional “toxic victims” and
called “mentally ill”. Might a good percentage of
the homeless population be made up of such
individuals ? Then there is the question of “behavioral
problems” from lead exposures among violent
The attached forwarded “Pump Handle Newsletter”
has many other stories that are also of interest. To
which such deeper questions can also be asked with
regard to the cumulative effects of lead with other toxic chemicals (16, *17*).
The following are posted blogs at
Toxic Victims Or Mentally Ill ?
(view Blog, with peer reviewed medical journals)
What might you expect to happen when
“Toxic Victims” are called “mentally ill”
and they meet up with a policeman that is
“raging” from steroid abuse (aka roiding) ?
“Roid a Cops: National Epodemic of Police Brutality & Steroid Abuse”
(view more with video of a Harvard University studies and others,
with regard to steroid abuse and law enforcement. “A national epidemic”
linked in at the blog at:)>
The Toxic Reverend
Justice Is Homeless
16: Considering Cumulative Effects Under the National Environmental Policy Act http://ceq.eh.doe.gov/nepa/ccenepa/ccenepa.htm
*17*: Our Stolen Future New insights from scientific research, Low dose effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals http://www.ourstolenfuture.org/NewScience/lowdose/lowdose.htm
The information in this article I find very disturbing.
It didn’t say why the children of Rhode Island have had
such heavy exposures to lead since 1991? Does it come
from lax laws that govern factories? Lead from gasoline? Paint? Toys? I know the current administration has cut back on monitoring toxic
chemicals. Are there no state laws that monitor this?
This is so alarming. So irresponsible. Haven’t
people known about lead poisonng for several decades?
I’m writing as a person who has been detoxing
from mercury and lead for 5 years. That’s partly why
I read these articles. That’s probably why I have
Aweb page from Bill Moyers Public Broadcasting show, national television.
Documentation of 50 years of corporate cover up. Bull Moyers was tested
for over 800 chemicals. They found over 80. That creates more viable
chemical reactions in one patient than the California pick six lotto. In many
instances, chemicals multiply in toxicity, rather than add, when mixed (16,
17). The correct tests must be used (12A).
Hally, a lot of the lead exposures in Rhode Island are from leaded paint. Old houses that were painted with leaded paint need to be renovated carefully, by a contractor qualified to handle the problem — and that’s pretty expensive. Rhode Island wants the paint companies to pay to rehab old homes that contain lead paint.