Surfactants, an overlooked cause of Alzheimer's.
Surfactants or surface active agents are a class of chemicals
successfully used to reduce the deaths of newborns. They have
also been used to allow medications to pass through the blood
brain barrier (BBB). In spite of theses benifits
it is possible that we are overusing these chemicals to the
point of causing health problems. Consider the
three following facts.
1). Figure 1 shows a ngram or plot of the number of times the term
"Alzheimer's" has been mentioned in Google literature.
It is clear from this plot that something happened around 1970 or so
and the incidence of Alzheimer's began a huge increase. Today
the rate of Alzheimer's is doubling every 10
2). More woman get Alzheimer's than men do. The ratio is
3 women to 2 men.
3) Alzheimer's is a example of a "Disease of the
Affluent". This means that it occurs mostly in
rich countries and poorer countries have very little and sometimes
no Alzheimer's. There is however an
exception. A very rich country that has almost no
Alzheimer's. It is Singapore.
But Singapore is a very strict country. They cane
people. They fine you for jaywalking, They have banned
chewing gum to keep their sidewalks clean. If
indeed Alzheimer's is caused by toxic chemicals and not the
other proposed causes like mold, diabetes of the
brain, genetics etc. it may be that their strict
laws also ban the chemicals that cause
Here is a link to data on the prevalence of Alzheimer's in different
So what can we deduce from these three facts. To me the first
item points to the fact that something happened around
1970. The most probable thing is that some chemical or family
of chemicals was introduced and its use has increased.
Perhaps this chemical (or family of chemicals) is responsible for
The second item listed above seems to indicate that whatever we are
exposed to that may cause Alzheimer's is used more by women
The third item indicates that poor countries do not have the
chemicals or whatever it is that rich countries have that is causing
There is a lot written about Alzheimer's being caused by plaques,
amyloids and tangles but this does not explain why it began in 1970
or why it affects women more than men or why it is lower in poor
countries. I would like to propose an
Our brains are protected by a blood brain barrier (BBB).
This is a membrane that has the function of allowing nutrients
to pass through into the brain but it keeps many toxic materials
(even those in our own bodies) out of the brain however this blood
brain barrier presents modern day medicine with the problem of
overcoming this blood brain barrier to deliver drugs to the
brain. That problem has been solved by using these
But there is a caution mentioned in the last sentence of the above
abstract in that the same chemicals that allow medicines to pass
into the brain may allow other unwanted materials to pass into the
brain. To me the usefulness of surfactants
has with it the caution not to use these things where they could
possibility cause harm. So what has been done?
Surfactants have been put into our foods and our
household cleaning solutions where women are exposed to them more
than men are. And then we totally ignore the possibility of
damage to the blood brain barrier and assume Alzheimer's is solely a
disease of the brain. It is possible that Alzheimer's is the
result of the destruction of the blood brain barrier which leads to
toxic chemicals in our bodies being passed into the brain by the
SODIUM DODECYL SULFATE. SDS
The surfactant SDS or Sodium dodecyl sulfate is one of
many. Here is what Wikipedia says about SDS.
"SDS is mainly used in detergents for laundry with many
cleaning applications. It is a highly effective surfactant and is used in any task
requiring the removal of oily stains and residues; for example, it
is found in higher concentrations with industrial products including
engine degreasers, floor cleaners, and car wash soaps.
concentrations, it is found in toothpastes, shampoos, shaving
creams, and bubble bath formulations, for its
ability to create a foam (lather), for its surfactant properties,
and in part for its thickening effect."
The Wikipedia page that statement came from is here.
But do we really need SDS? There was a time when
phosphates were used in most cleaning solutions but then they were
found to be a threat to the environment so they were all replaced
with SDS as well as other surfactants . The problem is
that it was only in home cleaning solutions where phosphates were
replaced. Those same phosphates used by farmers
were never changed in spite of the fact the environment damage from
farmers was far larger than that from home owners as most homes are
connected to waste water treating systems. Thus there
is room for a lot of questions about the decision to put SDS
in our homes. Fortunately it is still possible to buy
phosphate based cleaning solutions. Uline sell laundry
detergent You can find them at the following link:
And Amazon sells a dishwasher detergent based on Phosphate. It
Another one, Perhaps the worst of all is a
surfactant that is used to help medications pass through the blood
brain barrier. It is Polysorbate 80. Here is a
link about the use of Polysorbate 80 in helping medications gain
access to the brain.
One would expect that something this powerful would be used only
where it is needed but that is not the case. We know
that the function of the blood brain barrier is to protect our
brains from toxic materials in our own bodies so why do we add
polysorbate 80 to our foods. The best i can say
about this practice is that it is an oversight that should be
corrected. It should not be allowed. Let me say
this again. A chemical that is used to get toxic
materials past the protective barrier to our brains is put into our
foods. I find this unbelievable Ice cream
and salad dressings are two of the big users of polysorbate
Here are two links about the dangers of Polysorbate 80.
Thus it seems reasonable that the blood brain barrier is important
to good health and while a case may be made for using surfactants to
deliver medications to the brain, it seems that we should be wary of
using these materials with abandon. They may have
dire consequences and should be used with caution.
My conclusion is that there is a possibility of an oversight in our
use of some of these surfactants with Polysorbate 80 being the
worst. We seem to use it in situations where it is not
necessary and may be doing extreme damage. This is not