Gary Chandler, Public Health & Public Policy
Gary Chandler is leading some groundbreaking work on the global surge in brain disease among many mammals, including humans. The spike in Alzheimer’s disease and autism began in the late 1980s and both persist today in growing numbers. The biggest difference between autism and Alzheimer’s disease might be age. Both involve proteins in the brain. In a child it is a neurodevelopmental disease. In an adult, it is a neurodegenerative disease.
Studies suggest that two thirds of the autism epidemic is environmentally caused. The same source of contamination is fueling other forms of brain disease in humans and wildlife. Proteins seem to connect them all.
In 2015, the CDC reported that 1 in 45 children in the United States now has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which includes Asperger’s Syndrome. It just updated the figure to 1 in 40. Just a few years ago, the rate was estimated at one in 88. Boys are five times more likely to be autistic than girls.
Autism spectrum disorders are found in individuals around the world, regardless of their ethnic, cultural, or economic backgrounds.
Autism can be reliably diagnosed as early as age two. About one out of every 100 adults has ASD, but that ratio will rise as young victims age.
According to a 2010 study by the CDC, Utah, North Carolina and New Jersey have the highest rates of autism. ASD strikes one in every 32 Utah boys, and one in every 85 girls. In New Jersey, one in every 28 boys has ASD. The picture has likely changed dramatically since 2010. Plus, these regional discrepancies may also reflect the varying ability to identify autism cases in surveys from one region to another more than a statistical difference in prevalence. Some parents are reluctant to have their children labeled, which means that they avoid honest answers on such screenings, or avoid the screenings altogether. Diagnosis among ethnic minority children lags behind, so it’s unknown how many children with autism remain undiagnosed.
In support of an environmental cause, we can’t ignore that the global Alzheimer’s disease epidemic and the autism epidemic both began to rise in the late 1970s. They began to spike dramatically in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The spike in autism and Alzheimer’s disease are almost identical in terms of timing and trajectory. Was it just a coincidence or is there a common denominator at work?
President Obama awarded Prusiner the National Medal of Science in 2010 to recognize the importance of his research. Unfortunately, Prusiner’s science is being ignored and we all are facing a public health disaster because of the negligence and reckless disregard for public health.
Unfortunately, many brain diseases are a symptom of exposure to pathogens and toxins found in sewage, including deadly prions. The U.S. alone dumps more than 700 million tons of sewage sludge (biosolids) on farms, ranches, parks, golf courses and even playgrounds every year. Unfortunately, these neurological disorders escalated as the highly toxic sewage sludge on open land proceeded to contaminate air, food and water. The evidence points to prion exposure and the rising sources of heavy metals in our food, water and air. The reckless dumping of tons of sewage sludge is a pathway for neurotoxins and infectious waste to reach your entire family.
Palmer Taylor, associate vice chancellor for Health Sciences at UC San Diego and dean of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and colleagues report in the September 2010 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry that misfolding of a protein called neuroligin-3, due to gene mutations, results in trafficking deficiencies that may lead to abnormal communications between neurons.
Genetic misfolding of neuroligins is thought to prevent normal formation and function of neuronal synapses. The gene mutation has been documented in patients with autism.
“It makes sense that there’s a connection,” said Taylor. “The neuroligins are involved in maintaining neuronal synapses and their malfunction is likely to affect a neuro-developmental disease.”