Study links copper to Alzheimer's disease

Whether you know it or not, it’s likely that you are consuming copper daily, which it is not such great news if you have read the latest study published by US scientists, which links the metal to Alzheimer's disease, a degenerative brain disorder that causes dementia.

Tap water coming through copper pipes, red meat and shellfish as well as fruit and vegetables are all sources of dietary copper, which is vital to keep a healthy body. The catch is, says a team at the University of Rochester in New York, that over certain levels it can also cause increased build-up of the metal in the blood vessels in the brain.

"It is clear that, over time, copper's cumulative effect is to impair the systems by which amyloid beta is removed from the brain," said in a statement Rashid Deane, Ph.D., a research professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Department of Neurosurgery, member of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine, and lead author of the study. "This impairment is one of the key factors that cause the protein to accumulate in the brain and form the plaques that are the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease."

Deane adds that, since there are no effective treatments for the disease, his team's findings, based on research on mice, suggest a way to prevent the memory-robbing disorder or slow it once it has taken hold.