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Copper Pipes in Your Home May Cause Heart Disease and Alzheimer's

Scientists have claimed people should remove old copper pipes from their homes, or else install special filters, because the metal has been shown to build up in your body and cause serious health problems.

Tiny traces of copper from pipes mix with tap water and are then consumed. Over a long period of time this leads to a build-up of copper in your body, which in turn leads to Alzheimer's disease, heart disease and diabetes because your body cannot process the metal.

People over 50 should also avoid vitamin and mineral pills that contain cooper and iron. They should also donate blood regularly to reduce iron levels.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

The use of copper piping in home construction in the U.S. started in the early 1960’s. By 1970 it was almost exclusively the material of choice for water piping, and it’s now estimated that 98 percent of all homes built after 1970 have copper pipes.

Despite public perception that copper pipes last forever, the reality is the average life of a copper pipe, per engineering specifications, is about 20 years. So if your home was built in 1980, for example, your copper pipes are now 10 years past their prime.

Over the last couple decades, changes the EPA made to public water chemistry standards shortened the life expectancy of copper piping even further, down to 10 to 15 years in some areas of the country.

Water with pH below 6.5 can corrode copper pipes. This breakdown of the pipes not only introduces high levels of copper into your tap water, but also causes pitting, or "pinhole" leaks, which can allow other contaminants into the pipe and the water passing through it.

Reports began surfacing as much as 15 years ago documenting the corrosion and failure of copper piping on a massive scale across the United States.

Heavy Metal Toxicity

Some heavy metals -- and copper is among them -- are actually nutrients at low concentrations, but at high concentrations can be quite toxic.

During reproductive years, your body is programmed to store an excess of both copper and iron as they are essential for early development. But if these minerals are consumed in excessive quantities they can contribute to the production of damaging oxidant radicals.

These excess stores of copper and iron and the oxidant damage they cause increase as you get older and are linked to diseases of aging like arteriosclerosis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.

One study revealed that people with a high intake of both copper and fatty foods lose cognitive function at over three times the normal rate.

The copper in drinking water is inorganic and your body processes it differently than the copper you consume through the food you eat. Inorganic copper is more toxic, and trace amounts in drinking water significantly increased Alzheimer’s type symptoms in the animals in one study.

Copper and Your Brain

Alzheimer’s disease is expected to increase some 70 percent in coming years. Over five million people are affected today and it is estimated that this number will increase to eight million by 2030.

For many years, scientists have believed that Alzheimer’s was due to protein clumps in the brain, which pointed to metals -- mainly aluminum -- as the main offender.

However, another theory suggests that accumulated metals (zinc and copper) mix abnormally with a protein called beta amyloid in the brain, which oxidizes and destroys your body’s nerve cells.

Other Health Problems Linked to Copper

Elevated levels of copper have been linked to a wide range of health issues and disorders, including:

  • Gastrointestinal complaints (abdominal pain, cramps, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting)

  • Liver damage

  • Schizophrenia

  • Hypertension

  • Stuttering

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches

  • Muscle and joint pain

  • Autism

  • Childhood hyperactivity

  • Depression

  • Insomnia

  • Senility

  • Premenstrual syndrome

If you’re expecting a child, you can potentially double the level of copper in your body during your pregnancy, and it can take months after delivery for the levels to return to normal. Copper toxicity may be a cause of postpartum depression.

A comprehensive list of copper and other heavy metal sources and health problems associated with heavy metal toxicity can be found here.

Tips for Reducing Your Copper Exposure

The Telegraph article suggests, consider having your copper pipes replaced, especially if you live in an older home.. However this may be far too expensive and cost prohibitive for most.  If you do decide to do that though simply replace them with PVC pipe. Probably far more important would be to follow the recommendations below:

Other precautions you can take:

  • Install a water filter system which is specifically designed to remove heavy metals, such as a reverse osmosis system.

  • Replace your copper cookware with ceramic. Ceramic is completely safe and very easy to clean.

  • It is common to overdose on copper in your mineral supplement. Unless you are under the supervision of a physician you will want to avoid taking copper in excess of between 50 -100 micrograms. Many supplements use an inorganic copper similar to the more toxic type that flakes into tap water from corroding copper pipes.
    This is one of the problems when you use synthetic supplements. When you consume nutrient-rich whole foods as the primary source of your vitamins and minerals, it gives your body the opportunity to more easily vary the absorption rate and prevent any potential toxicity problems.

  • Donate blood to reduce your iron levels.

How to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease and Diabetes at the Same Time

You can reduce or even eliminate your risk for both Alzheimer’s and diabetes by:

  1. Exercising. Exercise protects your brain just as it protects the rest of your body from diabetes.

  2. Eating a nutritious diet that’s right for your nutritional type.

  3. Getting plenty of high-quality omega-3 in your diet, such as by taking a krill oil supplement. A diet rich in omega-3 fats has been found to ward off both Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.

  4. If you’re having a hard time getting yourself to exercise or dropping unhealthy foods from your diet, use EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) to stop cravings and increase your motivation to eat right and exercise more.

Additional steps you can take to keep from becoming among the exploding number of Alzheimer sufferers:

  • Avoid and remove mercury from your body. Dental amalgam fillings are one of the major sources of mercury, however you should be healthy prior to having them removed. Follow the mercury detox protocol and then find a high-quality, biological dentist who knows what he’s doing to have your amalgams removed.

  • Avoid aluminum, such as in antiperspirants, cookware, etc.

  • Avoid flu vaccinations as they contain both mercury and aluminum.

  • Eat wild blueberries, which have high anthocyanin and antioxidant content that are known to guard against Alzheimer's and other neurological diseases.

  • Challenge your mind daily. Mental stimulation, such as traveling, learning to play an instrument or doing crossword puzzles, is associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer's. Researchers suspect that mental challenge helps to build up your brain, making it less susceptible to the lesions associated with Alzheimer's disease.