Mercury Induced Alzheimer’s Disease essay

Article One

 

Title

 

Ely J. T. A., Mercury Induced Alzheimer’s Disease: Accelerating Incidence?

 

Purpose

 

The purpose of the study is to determine whether the mercury contained within amalgam restorations increased the likelihood of acquiring Alzheimer’s disease.  The study seeks to bring into light the connection between a condition called micromercurialism, a form of mercury poisoning following low-dose mercury exposure over a prolonged period of time, and amalgam. The study will attempt to support the controversial claim that micromercurialism is one of the main causes of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Methods

 

The amount of mercury (Hg°) released from amalgams was determined using a Jeronome Model 411 Mercury Vaporizer Analyzer powered by a portable battery. Subjects used in the study were found in a meeting on mental illness and had either requested to participate in the study or consented to it. An initial mercury reading was obtained 30 seconds prior to a gum chewing session and then again after the gum chewing session (for this reading, the participant’s teeth was dried and the participant was asked to hold his or her breath for 10 seconds). By blowing air into the mercury vaporizer, the mercury level contained within the air sample could be determined and displayed as a digital readout. Mercury levels were compared before and after gum chewing (by blowing air into a mercury vaporizer) for two participants.

 

 

 

 

 

Results

 

The study supported the notion that mercury is released from amalgam restorations. Mercury vapour content post gum chewing was at least four times higher than that found before gum chewing. When an individual is chewing gum, mercury-containing vapour is produced in the oral cavity and the individual could then inhale this vapour. Other studies had similar findings; for example, one study-examining cadavers showed that individuals with amalgam restorations had higher levels of mercury in the nucleus basalis of Meynert as compared to individuals without amalgam restorations. It is suggested that perhaps amalgam results in increased incidence of Alzheimer’s disease because the presence of mercury induces the activity of mercury-inactivating enzymes. Mercury-inactivating enzymes have been implicated in slowing down natural neural processes, and thus may be responsible for causing Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Critique

 

Since the sample size was extremely small containing only two subjects, the results obtained cannot be extrapolated to the general population with a high degree of confidence. Increasing sample size would make the results obtained more reliable. Moreover, since the two participants used did not have Alzheimer’s disease, the study cannot conclude directly that mercury from amalgam restorations causes Alzheimer’s disease; rather the study can only claim that the mercury within amalgam restorations can be released into a vapour following chewing. To conclude that amalgam restorations result in increased incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, a long-term study would need to be conducted and the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in this group would need to be significantly higher than that found in the general population. If empirical evidence supported the idea that amalgam restorations cause Alzheimer’s disease, it would permanently change how dentistry is practiced.

 

Conclusion

 

Using two mental health patients, the study showed that following chewing, mercury could be released from amalgam restorations into the air contained within the oral cavity. However, it cannot be concluded definitively, based on this study that the mercury contained within amalgam restorations causes Alzheimer’s disease. To be able to make such a bold claim, a long-term study involving many individuals with amalgam restorations would need to be conducted, and the incidence level of Alzheimer’s disease would need to be much higher in this group than in the general population to support such a claim. Moreover, part of the author’s claim that the mercury contained within amalgam restorations causes Alzheimer’s disease is based on other studies each using a different set of methods.

 

 

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