The pesticide DDT was banned in the US in 1972, but it's still in use in some locations around the globe, with the World Health Organization continuing to recommend it as a method of controlling malaria. But new research suggests a downright (and yet another) unhealthy angle to the pesticide: A study published in JAMA Neurology indicates there may be a relationship between Alzheimer's disease and the chemical, the BBC reports. The nuts and bolts of the study: DDT becomes DDE in the body, and so Rutgers University and Emory University researchers tested the blood of 86 people with Alzheimer's disease and 79 without, specifically looking at DDE levels.
The upshot: Those with Alzheimer's had 3.8 times more DDE in their blood than those without the disease. But it wasn't a black and white conclusion, with some Alzheimer's patients showing low DDE levels and others without the disease having high levels. Further, the BBC points out that Alzheimer's disease was identified before the use of DDT began. But the researchers were able to establish a correlation between DDE blood levels and DDE in the brain, indicating the "harmful compound" takes root in the brain, reports the Star-Ledger. And one researcher notes Americans aren't exactly safe from the pesticide: "We are still being exposed to these chemicals in the United States, both because we get food products from other countries and because DDE persists in the environment for a long time." To wit, the CDC detects DDT in as many as 80% of the blood samples it monitors.