Dementia and other neurological brain diseases have now reached levels that are “almost epidemic,” according to researchers from Bournemouth University in England. Their study, published in Surgical Neurology International, claims that brain diseases are now striking more people at a younger age.
“The rate of increase in such a short time suggests a silent or even a ‘hidden’ epidemic, in which environmental factors must play a major part, not just ageing,” lead researcher Colin Pritchard said. “Modern living produces multi-interactional environmental pollution but the changes in human morbidity, including neurological disease is remarkable and points to environmental influences.”
Death rates continue to rise
By comparing the rates of neurological brain diseases in 21 Western countries from 1989 to 2010, the researchers found that as of 2010, the average rate of onset for dementia was 10 years earlier than it was in 1989. Moreover, deaths from neurological diseases had increased significantly in people aged 55 to 74 and had nearly doubled in people aged 75 and older.
Though changes were seen in all 21 countries, the United States exhibited the worst scenario, by far. In the U.S., neurological deaths in men older than 74 tripled from 1989 to 2010, and they increased nearly fivefold in women of the same age. More elderly U.S. women are now dying from brain diseases than from cancer for the first time in recorded history.
The researchers’ analysis showed that the findings could not simply be explained by improved treatment of other diseases.
“Crucially it is not just because people are living longer to get diseases they previously would not have lived long enough to develop but older people are developing neurological disease more than ever before,” Pritchard said.
“The environmental changes in the last 20 years have seen increases in the human environment of petro-chemicals – air transport- quadrupling of motor vehicles, insecticides and rises in background electro-magnetic-field, and so on. These results will not be welcome news as there are many with short-term vested interests that will want to ignore them,” he added.
Are vaccines to blame?
Could mercury exposure from vaccines have played a role in the rising rates of early dementia?
In a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2010, researchers reviewed 100 experimental and clinical studies looking at the effects of mercury on cells, animals and humans. They found that long-term mercury exposure produced many of the same symptoms exhibited by those with Alzheimer’s disease, including confusion and impairments to memory and cognitive function.
“Mercury is clearly contributing to neurological problems, whose rate is increasing in parallel with rising levels of mercury,” researcher Richard Deth said. “It seems that the two are tied together.”
Mercury-containing thimerosal was used as a preservative in many childhood vaccines until 2001. Even today, the substance is still used in adult vaccines, as well as in flu shots given to children and adults. Another common vaccine ingredient, aluminum, has also been linked to dementia. A 2009 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people with the highest aluminum content in their drinking water also had the highest risk of dementia. Clinical studies have also directly linked aluminum to brain damage.
Nowadays, both aluminum and mercury are widely found in the environment due to pollution and contamination from chemical sources. As such, it’s important to be wary of what we choose to expose ourselves to, lest we suffer the dire and sometimes fatal consequences of our uninformed choices.