US researchers are suggesting that the exposure to the pesticide DDT may increase the chances of acquiring Alzheimer’s disease later on.
DDT is a widely used pesticide designed to control malaria. At the end of World War II, it went through massive success as an initial measure in malaria prevention and later on as protection of crops in commercial agriculture.
Many have questioned its impact on human health alongside environmental concerns, although until now, the World Health Organization recommends using DDT to keep malaria at bay.
The substance was already banned in the US and many other countries in 1972.
‘Strong environmental risk factor’
The DDT lingers in the human body, which later on turns into DDE. A team of researchers at Rutgers University and Emory University tested DDE levels in the blood of 86 Alzheimer’s disease patients and contrasted it with the results of 79 healthy people of similar age and background.
The result found out that those afflicted with the disease had 3.8 times more DDE than their healthy counterparts.
Researchers have acknowledged that this is not yet a clear-cut picture of DDT’s effects.
“This is one of the first studies identifying a strong environmental risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease,” said Prof. Allan Levey.
“Much more research would be needed to confirm whether this particular pesticide may contribute to the disease,” said Dr. Simon Ridley of Alzheimer’s Research UK.