The association between chronic Dicofol exposure and the risk of Alzheimer's disease
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Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a disorder that causes progressive cognitive impairment. It’s a unique neurodegenerative disorder in which beta amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles begin to preoccupy brain tissue. AD has been a historically difficult disease for society to examine partially because it’s etiology is still not well understood. One of the risk factors associated with AD development that has been researched is exposure to pesticides, primarily focused on the pesticide Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). Studies have shown that DDT disrupts both the neurological and endocrine systems. As a result, this disruption leads to hyperexcitability of axons as well as a loss of neuroprotection thereby causing an increased susceptibility to Alzheimer’s Disease. Although DDT has been extensively studied, other pesticides are still used in large amounts throughout the world. One pesticide that’s particularly used to do it’s low cost and availability is Dicofol. Dicofol is a DDT derivative in which it’s structure is similar to the structure of DDT. Although Dicofol is similar to DDT in terms of structure and use, research into the effects of Dicofol exposure has not been extensively performed. The following study has been proposed in order to investigate a relationship between Dicofol exposure and the risk of developing AD. The study performed is a retrospective cohort study of 1134 people consisting of pesticide applicators collected from the Agricultural Health Study. A licensed neurologist using the Mini Mental Status Exam will assess if cognitive impairment is present in the participants. Those that are believed to be cognitively impaired will then undergo neuroimaging to confirm the presence of beta amyloid plaques, which are indicative of AD. Finally a Chi Square analysis will be used in order to determine if there are associations between exposure status and AD diagnosis. This study has both clinical and public health significance. As stated previously, dicofol is still used widely in many countries due to it’s availability and low cost. Therefore, many agricultural workers may be unknowingly exposing themselves to a pesticide that can increase their susceptibility to neurodegenerative disease. This concern is primarily the reason as to why a study such as the one proposed is needed.