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Preservatives in Meat Linked to Dementia

PRESERVATIVES added to cured meats, bacon and ground beef have been linked to dementia diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Scientists say sodium nitrite, which is added to meat and fish to destroy toxins, reacts with proteins in the meat, damaging human DNA cells similar to aging.

US researchers, whose work was edited by the director of the WA Centre of Excellence for Alzheimer's Disease Prof Ralph Martins and published today in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, say the problem is compounded by an increase in human exposure to nitrogen-containing fertilisers from soil run-off and water contamination.

More than 20,000 people in WA suffer from dementia - this number increases 10-fold nationally. Prof Martins says Alzheimer's is reaching epidemic proportions in this country.

"Until this point there has been a lot of focus on defective genes but now it is becoming clear that really represents a small proportion of the total community who are at risk of getting Alzheimer's,'' he said.

"This study is important because it points to the environmental factors that can play a role in Alzheimer's disease,'' he said.

Study author and professor of pathology and lab medicine at Rhode Island Hospital in the US, Suzanne de la Monte, found that a massive rise in fertiliser and processed food sales coincided with an increased prevalence of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's' and type 2 diabetes in the US. 

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