From Dr. McDougall's recent newsletter:
Copper and Iron from Meat Damage the Brain and Body
Risks of Copper and Iron Toxicity during Aging in Humans by George J. Brewer published in the February 2010 issue of Chemical Research in Toxicology [Brewer GJ. Risks of copper and iron toxicity during aging in humans. Chem Res Toxicol. 2010 Feb 15;23(2):319-26] found that, "Diseases of aging, such as Alzheimer's disease, other neurodegenerative diseases, arteriosclerosis, diabetes mellitus, and more, may all be contributed to by excess copper and iron. A very disturbing study has found that in the general population those in the highest fifth of copper intake, if they are also eating a relatively high fat diet, lose cognition (brain function) at over three times the normal rate... both (minerals) contribute to the production of excess damaging oxidant radicals."
The author's recommendations are to:
Avoid almost all multivitamin/multi-mineral pills because they contain copper and/or iron.
Avoid eating all kinds of meats because they are plentiful in both minerals. Copper and iron are much more bio-available from meat than from vegetable foods. Liver and shellfish are particularly high in copper. Red meat is particularly high in bio-available iron.
Avoid drinking water with elevated copper content. Eighty percent of the homes in the US have copper pipes for water. Check levels in your water. A reverse osmosis device can be installed on the tap used for drinking and cooking water.
Comments: Copper and iron are metals essential for life; however, in excess they are toxic to the body's tissues. The author, Brewer, points out that careful research by Waldman and Lamb in their book, Dying for a Hamburger, has shown that Alzheimer's disease did not exist until 100 years ago. It still is rare in India and Africa. (Waldman and Lamb believe the infectious prion agent that causes Mad Cow Disease from tainted beef causes this form of dementia.) Brewer believes copper and iron toxicity cause Alzheimer's disease from consuming meat. Other metals taken in with our foods and beverages, especially aluminum, are also believed to play a major causal role in Alzheimer's disease. The Western diet has been tied to Alzheimer's disease because of damage from the cholesterol and fat in the diet.
Brewer considers diabetes, atherosclerosis leading to heart attacks and strokes, and other common diseases to be from mineral toxicity. His paper adds to the interesting debate about which part of the Western diet is most harmful? Or does it really matter? As consumers we have enough evidence to know which foods (meats and dairy products being prime culprits) are making us sick.