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One Baby Boomer health risk no one talks about

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Baby boomer

Baby Boomers might not be aware of the harm to their health that could come from high levels of copper and iron in the blood stream. Of course, that's because you haven't seen any public health messages and probably haven't been warned by your doctor that you could be ingesting either of the two from unknown sources that can put you at risk for a variety of common health problems that we shrug off as inevitable with aging.

Iron is necessary to carry oxygen throughout the body. Copper helps our body use iron, protects our nerve cells and is important for thyroid and bone and cartilage health. But too much of a good thing can accelerate oxidation that ages us faster at a cellular level, which mean higher likelihood of chronic disease.

Women store less iron than do men. Their rates of heart disease, cancer and diabetes are also lower compared to men.

Once we mature, iron accumulates in the blood.

According to the American Chemical Society (ACS), copper can also pose problems for baby boomers who ingest it from copper pipes in the home. The result of high copper levels could lead to Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease in addition to heart problems and other diseases of aging.

But there isn't a lot of focus on protecting health as we get older because not much focus is placed on getting too much copper and iron. Public education is lacking about the potential problem.

Dr. George Brewer who has studied genetics for decades at the University of Michigan Medical School said: "This story of copper and iron toxicity, which I think is reaching the level of public health significance, is virtually unknown to the media or the general public.

Three years later and not much still being said

The study that was published three-years ago garnered some attention at the time, but seems to have gone by the wayside.

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I'm willing to bet your doctor or nurse has never discussed controlling your copper and iron intake to lower your risk of diseases - with the exception of diseases that are known to be caused by extremely high levels of the metals.

Dr. Brewer tells us about "...the more subtle toxicity of copper and iron that does not just affect a limited number of us, but may affect almost all of us as we age."

After we reach age 50 the metals begin to accumulate in the bloodstream and damage cells, Brewer says.

He believes both copper and iron are contributing to Alzheimer's disease that has become an epidemic.

Sources of copper are from plumbing, our high intake of meat in the Western diet and from dietary supplements.

How to avoid copper and iron health risks

Here are Dr. Brewer's tips for protecting your health. If you're a Baby Boomer concerned about aging diseases:

  • Throw away your supplements that contain copper or iron
  • Avoid drinking water with copper in it
  • Reduce your meat intake. Recent studies show the benefits of eating less red especially can help thwart a variety of cancers in addition to a variety of other inflammatory related diseases, including type 2 diabetes.
  • Consider donating blood to lower your copper and iron levels, but only with consent from your healthcare provider.
  • Take zinc supplements that will remove the metals from your bloodstream, but speak with your doctor first.

The hidden danger of copper and iron to Baby Boomer health isn't being discussed by the medical profession. Few health professionals have the issue in their radar.

Controlling copper and iron levels as we age could help eliminate or at least delay onset of common diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and heart disease that don't have to be inevitable just because we are getting older.

Alzheimer's Society