Does Laundry detergent cause Alzheimer's?
About 1980 it was noticed that the phosphate used in laundry
detergents was causing algae blooms after it was discharged into
rivers and lakes. This lead to
it being replaced with chemicals called surfactants that had the
ability to dissolve oil and grease as well as dirt.
Farmers also used phosphates and spread it on fields where it again
could run off into rivers but there never was much of a
movement to limit the use of phosphate in farming.
Perhaps it was a coincidence that beginning in 1984 the incidence of
Alzheimer's began to rise.
I found a website that listed Alzheimer's deaths for each country
and noticed that it seems it is only the first world countries
that have a high rate of Alzheimer's
deaths.(1) Third world countries do
not. This fact together with the knowledge
that Alzheimer's disease exploded starting in 1985 or so led me to
believe that somehow our environment had changed and we are now
exposed to some type of toxin that causes
Alzheimer's. Another important fact is that
woman are twice as likely to have Alzheimer's as
men. This points to exposure to chemicals used in
cleaning homes, washing dishes and doing laundry.
The brain is encased in a blood brain barrier which protects it from
toxic materials in the body. This means that either
people with Alzheimer's are exposed to toxic materials that
find their way through the blood brain barrier or other chemicals
that are not toxic damage the blood brain barrier so other toxins
can pass through it.
Returning again to the fact that rich countries have high
Alzheimer's rates it turns out that there is one
exception. The is Singapore, a very rich country
with very low Alzheimer's. But
Singapore is a very fussy country. They ban chewing
gum. They cane people. They fine you
if you jaywalk. They condemn cars if they are too
old. and more. Is it possible that
Singapore bans toxic materials that cause Alzheimer's?
Another fact about Singapore, they use phosphate
in their laundry detergent.
As I looked into replacements for phosphate i came with something
called surfactants. These chemicals have a
molecule that can attach to a water molecule on one end and attach
to a oil molecule on the other. Thus they make
good detergents and are used on many of our detergents.
An interesting issue was raised when I googled the term
"surfactants blood brain barrier". It seems that
surfactants are also used in making drugs. They
are added to drugs to allow them to pass through the blood
brain barrier into the brain. One link (2)
about a surfactant called Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate or (SDS) is
used for this purpose. The abstract ends with "one can
suggest that intracarotid infusion of SDS might provide a useful
clinical approach for the intentional introduction of different
substances into the brain" Another link (3)
talks about using the same surfactant as both a cleaning agent
and a food additive.
So to me it appears possible that by eliminating phosphate from our
laundry detergent and other soaps we forced a switch to surfactants
that may enable toxic materials to travel into the
brain. If so one possible solution to
this problem might be to switch back to a phosphate based
detergent. I found such a detergent on the web and
have purchased it. Now we use it for our
laundry. The source is given in link (4).
There are of course many other surfactants with different