Researchers may have found a link between Alzheimer’s disease and a common class of herbicides

Researchers from France have uncovered what just might be one of the most overlooked causes of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia that most people have probably never even considered: Crop chemicals.

A recent paper published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease takes a closer look at this apparent connection, revealing that a class of herbicides known as triazines appear to increase the body’s production of two amyloid peptides associated with brain degeneration.

These peptides are known as A?42 and A?40, respectively, and Laurent Meijer from ManRos Therapeutics in Roscoff, France, says they’re part of what’s known as the “human chemical exposome,” or HCE – a grouping of more than 85,000 chemical compounds that are known to damage human health.

Using a cell model, Meijer and his colleagues screened various HCE libraries to identify any A?42 inducers that might be linked to Alzheimer’s. Of the more than 3,500 compounds they tested, six triazine herbicides were identified as directly spurring the production of extracellular A?42.

Upon analyzing these compounds using immunoprecipitation and mass spectrometry, the team observed enhanced production of A? peptides cleaved at positions 42/43, as well as reduced production of peptides cleaved at positions 38 and lower – both characteristics of onset Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The six triazines were also found to affect various other cleavage patterns within the peptide matrix that are further linked to causing dementia. Based on these and other observations, Meijer and his colleagues concluded that triazines:

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“… [E]nhance the production of toxic, aggregation prone A?42/A?43 amyloids, suggesting the possible existence of environmental ‘Alzheimerogens’ (by analogy with carcinogens) which may contribute to the initiation and propagation of the amyloidogenic process in late-onset AD.”

Systematic reviews show additional links between crop chemical exposure and dementia

Other studies have identified similar connections between pesticide and herbicide exposure and neurodegenerative ailments. Beyond Pesticides actually put together a comprehensive database about this that includes multiple papers and study reviews on the subject.

This database points out that, while epidemiological data is not currently used to systematically and consistently assess the risk of chemical substances, systematic reviews published in peer-reviewed journals do exist and can be helpful in identifying links between chemical exposure and disease. And based on what Beyond Pesticides has put together thus far, there’s plenty of convincing evidence to show that crop chemicals can be triggers of neurodegeneration.

We already know, for instance, that prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides and herbicides is directly linked to neurodevelopmental disturbances in babies still in the womb. It would thus follow in logical concurrence that these same chemicals are similarly harmful to adults.

One of the papers highlighted by Beyond Pesticides affirms this from another angle, having found that elevated serum levels of pesticide – i.e. high levels of pesticide in the blood – is directly associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In other words, people who test high for pesticide chemicals in their bodies are more likely to suffer from dementia.

At least 11 other studies reveal similar outcomes associated with pesticide exposure – mainly increased risk of neurodegeneration in both young and old. This is why it’s critically important to consume organically grown food whenever possible and drink only purified water that’s undergone advanced filtration, both of which will help to minimize the risk of exposure.

Sticking to an anti-Alzheimer’s diet, which further includes avoiding genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), is a great way to keep your brain healthy and free of beta-amyloid plaques. Studies show that a Mediterranean diet rich in healthy fats like those found in olive oil and fish, as well as fresh vegetables and lean protein, can help to reduce one’s risk of dementia by more than 33 percent.

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