Even low levels of certain types of chemical pesticide can cause brain damage linked to cognitive impairments, new research shows.

The findings, published in the journal Environmental International, indicate individuals subjected to even low doses of organochlorine pesticides over time are more likely to be diagnosed with cognitive impairment than those who are not exposed to the chemicals.

Organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) — including DDT — were banned in developed countries decades ago, but still remain in the human body because they accumulate through the food chain. High levels of the chemicals still be found in a majority of the population of Sweden, as well as in most other industrial countries.


 

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In past studies, researchers at Uppsala University have linked OCPs to diabetes, atherosclerosis, and stroke. The latest findings have also now shown that OCPs are related to future cognitive impairment, based on an analysis of 1,000 70-year-olds in Uppsala.

The researchers measured levels of three different OCPs in blood samples from the study participants and found those with highest concentrations were up to three times more likely to receive a diagnosis of cognitive impairment over a 10-year period than those with low levels.

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