Recent studies have revealed striking discoveries linking levels of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, more commonly known as DDT, with the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s disease. It would seem that what was introduced as a means to help appears to be creating problems of its own. What remains to be seen is how this will affect the credibility of a product that has already been under great scrutiny.
DDT which was originally synthesized in the year 1874 gained popularity during the Second World War. It also proved useful as a remedy against malaria and was further used as an insecticide. The product was however later deemed hazardous due to its certain unwanted properties. It was discovered that DDT remained in the environment for extended periods of time before breaking down and can lead to the development of cancerous cells in the human body. This fact in some ways formed the basis of recent studies that have been carried out. The use of DDT has been banned in the United States ever since but its production and consumption continues throughout the world.
Alzheimer’s disease was not the first disease to be linked to pesticide consumption. Certain surveys were carried out to confirm if exposure to pesticide had any effect in the development of Parkinson’s disease in an individual. It was only when the results came back positive that experiments were conducted to find out if the same link was present between DDT and Alzheimer’s disease. Blood samples were taken from individuals confirmed of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and were tested. The results revealed that there was indeed a link between the two. It was revealed that patients suffering from Alzheimer had higher level of DDT present as compared to the lower levels present in those not suffering from the disease.
These studies however cannot be proof enough to confirm the link between Alzheimer’s disease and DDT as there were a few inconclusive results. Certain blood samples revealed moderate to very little amounts of DDT even though they belonged to patients who had a confirmed case of Alzheimer’s. It was hence concluded that while exposure to pesticide was a leading cause in the development of Alzheimer’s, there were in fact other factors at play as well. One such factor was genetics. During the study it was also revealed that those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease not only had higher levels of DDT but also had variance in their Apolipoprotein E gene that made them susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease. While DDT was responsible for accelerating the growth of the disease, it was gene formation that left them prone to the disease.
While not the predominant source of concern, exposure to DDT, is a primary factor and as such requires that the matter be further explored and looked into. Sadly enough almost every tool used for the good of mankind has a hidden and often disastrous drawback as well. There is a no denying the fact that DDT can prove useful to counteract certain diseases but the fact that there is a strong link present between DDT and Alzheimer’s disease is too dangerous to ignore. The decision to continue using DDT will simply depend on whether its advantages outweigh the drawbacks or do the hazards completely overshadow the uses.
By Hammad Ali