Iron in Red Meat Could Cause Increased Alzheimer's Risk


red meat

The dangers of too much red meat have been well documented throughout the years, as a meat heavy diet has been linked to ailments like high cholesterol and an increased risk of developing diabetes. While these two ailments can both be physically debilitating, new research has indicated that a diet heavy in red meat could also have cognitive effects as well. A new study has found that due to its iron content, too much red meat can actually raise your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, and found that when comparing Alzheimer’s patients, “iron has begun to accumulate in part of the brain which is generally damaged in the early stages of the disease, but not in a region which tends to be affected much later,” reports The Daily Telegraph.

Read more about Alzheimer's disease

The researchers “studied two brain regions in 31 Alzheimer’s sufferers: the hippocampus, which plays an important role in memory and is usually damaged early in the disease, and the thalamus which is involved in sensory perception and motor skills, and generally remains healthy until a later stage.” They reported that “unusually high levels of ferritin, a protein which stores iron, were found in the hippocampus of Alzheimer’s sufferers, but not in the thalamus.

The research team found that while the study did not explicitly prove that iron was responsible for causing the disease, they believe it could be a contributing factor, and stated that “lowering the amount of red meat and iron dietary supplements we consume can reduce the amount of iron which builds up in the brain.”

Professor George Bartzokis from the University of California Los Angeles, who along with his team led the study, stated that the increase in iron is "occurring together with the tissue damage. We found that the amount of iron is increased in the hippocampus and is associated with tissue damage in patients with Alzheimer’s but not in the healthy older individuals, or in the thalamus. So the results suggest that iron accumulation may indeed contribute to the cause of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Read more about vegan iron sources

Bartzokis also suggested that “the accumulation of iron in the brain may be influenced by modifying environmental factors, such as how much red meat and iron dietary supplements we consume and, in women, having hysterectomies before menopause.”

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, with no known cure. More than five million Americans are currently afflicted by the disease.

Photo Credit: 46137



By Ryan Bisram| August 27, 2013
Categories:  Care

About the Author

Ryan Bisram

Ryan Bisram

Ryan Bisram is Naturally Savvy's Content Manager. He is also a Health Promoter who frequently contributes editorial pieces. - See more at: http://www.naturallysavvy.com/food-and-nutrition/the-un-coconut-water-would-you-drink-maple-water#sthash.jU9uOSAr.dpuf
Ryan Bisram is Naturally Savvy's Content Manager. He is also a Health Promoter who frequently contributes editorial pieces. - See more at: http://www.naturallysavvy.com/food-and-nutrition/the-un-coconut-water-would-you-drink-maple-water#sthash.jU9uOSAr.dpuf
Ryan Bisram is Naturally Savvy's Content Manager. He is also a Health Promoter who frequently contributes editorial pieces. - See more at: http://www.naturallysavvy.com/food-and-nutrition/the-un-coconut-water-would-you-drink-maple-water#sthash.jU9uOSAr.dpuf
Ryan Bisram is a contributing writer for NaturallySavvy.com.

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