People who have silver fillings in their teeth also have mercury in their mouths. The big question is whether the metal is hazardous to humans.
Many dentists and researchers say the mercury is safe. But some scientists blame the mercury on
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel will try to settle the issue following hearings scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday in Maryland.
The panel was formed in response to petitions filed objecting to the FDA's regulation last year saying the mercury in the dental amalgam is not high enough to harm people.
Any mercury is dangerous, and when added to the ground up normal brain cells of deceased people without dementia, it will create the abnormal biochemistry seen in the brains of Alzheimer's sufferers, said Boyd Haley, Ph.D., University of Kentucky chemistry professor.
â€œThere is something increasing the rate of Alzheimer's disease. And I think it's exposure to mercury,â€ Haley said. Other than from some dental fillings, the mercury also likely came from some vaccinations and coal-powered energy plants, he said.
Alzheimer's disease is growing. About 5.3 million Americans, including 74,000 Oklahomans, suffer from Alzheimer's. The numbers are expected to rise to 16 million and 96,000 respectively by 2025.
Haley said Alzheimer's patients eventually cross a thin red line into
â€œAnd if they are breathing mercury vapor from dental amalgams for 30 or 40 years, it's going to push them across faster,â€ Haley said.
A scientific literature review published last month in The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease concludes mercury may play a role in Alzheimer's development. Authors Joachim Mutter and Richard Deth suggest removing mercury exposure because data strongly suggest a potential causal link between mercury and Alzheimer's.
But Mark Fried, Alzheimer's Association of Oklahoma and Arkansas chief executive officer, said there is a lack of data supporting the idea that mercury plays a role.
â€œMercury has not been shown to increase risk for Alzheimer's disease,â€ he said.
Age is the top risk for developing Alzheimer's, with it affecting one in eight Americans older than age 65, Fried said.
Mercury and vaccines
Tulsa attorney James Love is expected to attend the meeting, along with Haley, who plans to present testimony on mercury in fillings and vaccine. Though Haley doesn't oppose immunizations, he said only mercury can explain the cellular and biochemical abnormalities seen in autistic people. He also said it appears vaccinations accompanied the spike in autism rates.
The 1998 study by British doctor Andrew Wakefield linking mercury with autism led many parents to avoid letting their children take routine vaccinations. But his study of 12 children was discredited this year and retracted by The Lancet medical journal.
In September, Dr. Frank Destefano with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released his study showing babies exposed to high levels of thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative, were no more likely to develop autism than anyone else and were actually at slightly less risk among children exposed from birth to 20 months. Thimerosal is no longer used in childhood vaccines.
Haley suggests the federal agency caved in to drug manufacturers and should have had clearly unbiased scientists conduct research.
OU Medical Center Dr. Steven Crawford said the evidence is obvious: no correlation between vaccines and neurological problems such as Alzheimer's or autism.
â€œAbsolutely not. Zero. Zilch. None,â€ he said.
A mysterious death
Darrell Weaver, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs director, said battles with drug dealers over the years pale in comparison to the death a couple of years ago of his 14-year-old daughter, Ashley.
â€œIt's very hard to shake you ... when you've held your daughter's hand as she drew her last breath,â€ he said.
He places much of the blame for her sudden onset of neurological problems and brain tumor on her last hepatitis B vaccination in September 1999, before the mercury-based preservative was removed.
Crawford said celebrities and people from all walks of life are trying to get answers to why their loved ones have autism or other diseases.
â€œI feel profoundly sad for these parents and children,â€ he said. But he said researching already discounted connections of vaccines and amalgams with Alzheimer's and autism is worse than useless.
â€œIt's delayed pursuing other courses that would be more fruitful,â€ he said.