Copper can cause damage to a molecule that wards against Alzheimer's disease, new research suggests.
The build-up of amyloid beta in the brain is closely associated with the development of the neurological disorder.
Now a study from the University of Rochester Medical Center has indicated that copper damages a protein that removes amyloid beta from the brain.
Lead author Dr Rashid Deane said more work was needed to fully understand the role of copper in the disease, acknowledging there is some research linking low levels of copper to Alzheimer's.
Dr Deane commented said the study highlighted the importance of the blood-brain barrier in keeping out toxic substances.
"It's the job of the blood-brain barrier to keep the brain safe and healthy. It may very well be a breakdown with the barrier that is at the root of Alzheimer's disease."
We need small amounts of copper to keep our skin, blood and bones healthy. It is found in drinking water (because of copper pipes), red meat, nuts, shellfish, and many fruits and vegetables.
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