Holistic Dentistry Blog
The link between mercury and Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of Dementia. There are an estimated 42,000 people suffering with some form of Dementia in Ireland today, which doesn’t include the friends and family of sufferers that can find it equally devastating.
The cause of Alzheimer’s is mostly unknown. Just 3-5% of cases have been shown to be as a result of genetics, leaving 95 to 97% of cases unexplained.
Studies of patterns around the disease suggest that, aside from genetic risk factors, environmental factors may be involved. Researchers have observed higher mercury levels in the brains of living and deceased Alzheimer’s sufferers, causing some doctors such as myself to further explore this connection between mercury and Alzheimer’s disease.The links between mercury and Alzheimer’s disease are building.
Mercury, degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease
A 2001 study from the University of Calgary was the first to provide evidence that exposure to low levels of mercury can trigger a neurodegenerative process within the brain, such as the type seen in Alzheimer’s patients.
The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) has developed a video around the findings of the study in the hope it will reach a wider audience. The video is quite scientific, but it does show what can happen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
It describes how brain neurons grow normally, and how mercury can disrupt and destroy this process.
Briefly, tubulin proteins, which are crucial to the development of brain cells, do their job by binding with each other to form a microtubules a kind of cell structure.
If mercury is introduced, it binds to the tubulin proteins, preventing the tubulin proteins from binding with each other. When mercury blocks the tubulin proteins from binding together, this causes the breakdown of the microtubules.
Eventually the whole neuron dies off, causing memory loss. This process is called neurodegeneration and it is this which causes Alzheimer’s disease.
The use of mercury in dentistry
In 2010, The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease published a groundbreaking article by Mutter et al titled Does Inorganic Mercury Play a Role in Alzheimer’s Disease? A Systematic Review and Integrated Molecular Mechanism.
The article involved the systematic review of relevant, existing literature on the topic of Alzheimer’s disease and mercury. The research was comprehensive, reviewing 1,041 references and 106 studies.
The study found that “inorganic mercury reproduces all pathological changes seen in Alzheimer’s disease” and that inorganic mercury may also “promote neurodegenerative disorders”. The conclusion was that inorganic mercury may play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
In the same paper, Mutter et al drew similarities between the current study of the mercury/Alzheimer’s relationship, and the study of the smoking/cancer relationship in the 1970s.
Mutter et al wrote;
“It was an uphill battle, mainly against strong economic interests, to make the public aware of the dangers and it took more than 20 years to transform knowledge into legislation and behaviour. We have a very similar situation nowadays regarding the relationship between mercury and Alzheimer’s disease (and potentially other neurological diseases).”
They went on to conclude;
“While there are clearly knowledge gaps to be filled we feel that the available data are strongly suggestive of a potential causal link between mercury and Alzheimer’s disease.
We therefore suggest the removal of mercury from public and ecologic circuits and replacing it wherever possible by less toxic alternatives. This would be a sensible public health measure that is supported by current data.”
I agree that it is crucial that we take the necessary steps to reduce our contact with mercury.
Mercury is not just a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Over the last 20 years I have treated patients suffering with a range with mercury-related illnesses, including Sinusitis, irritable bowels and Fibromyalgia.
I believe that continuing to use amalgam that is 50% mercury in modern dentistry is an unnecessary risk to public health and should not be allowed to continue.
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