Environment, Nitrates Possible Cause for Alzheimer's, Diabetes
Published in the journal of Alzheimer's Disease, the study led by Dr. Suzanne de la Monte of RI Hospital shows trends towards increased mortality rates as a result of exposure to nitrates, nitrites and nitrosamines which appear in processed and preserved foods as well as fertilizers. These compounds have been deemed carcinogenic. (Check out our post about the movie Food Inc. for more on industrial farming and its effect on our health.)
De la Monte, a professor of pathology at Brown University medical school says, "We have become a 'nitrosamine generation.' In essence, we have moved to a diet that is rich in amines and nitrates, which lead to increased nitrosamine production. We receive increased exposure through the abundant use of nitrate-containing fertilizers for agriculture."
In the study, researchers compared mortality from Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease among 75 to 84 year olds from 1968 to 2005, and the death rates increased much more dramatically than for cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disease, which are also aging-associated. For example, in Alzheimer's patients, the death rate increased 150-fold, from 0 deaths to more than 150 deaths per 100,000. Parkinson's disease death rates also increased across all age groups. However, mortality rates from cerebrovascular disease in the same age group declined, even though this is a disease associated with aging as well.
"Because of the similar trending in nearly all age groups within each disease category, this indicates that these overall trends are not due to an aging population. This relatively short time interval for such dramatic increases in death rates associated with these diseases is more consistent with exposure-related causes rather than genetic changes. Moreover, the strikingly higher and climbing mortality rates in older age brackets suggest that aging and/or longer durations of exposure have greater impacts on progression and severity of these diseases."
De la Monte goes on to say, "Not only do we consume them [nitrates] in processed foods, but they get into our food supply by leeching from the soil and contaminating water supplies used for crop irrigation, food processing and drinking."