Heart disease used to be the number one killer of both men and women in the United States–cancer now has that top spot. Heart disease caused almost 25% of all deaths (one in every four) in the United States. Coronary heart disease represents the most common type of heart disease. In 2016, 610,000 people died from coronary heart disease (1671 per day). Each year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. 525,000 of that number have their first heart attack and 210,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack. Fifty percent of the men who die of heart disease die suddenly without experiencing any previous symptoms. Cardiac arrest (that means death) is the first symptom for half of the men! They never suspected they had heart disease. They never had a warning to change their diet, exercise, or find ways to relieve stress. For women in the same scenario, the statistic is even worse. Cardiac arrest is the first and only symptom for 64% of the women!

Calcified plaque is what causes hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis. It is not cholesterol. New studies are now focusing on the brain and investigating the relationship between calcified plaque and Alzheimer’s disease. The calcification of the brain as we age is called intracranial calcification. It is considered “normal” by the medical community if there is not evidence of other diseases causing the accumulation. But scientists are beginning to reconsider that position. 

The pineal gland is an endocrine gland located in the brain. Its function isn’t fully understood but scientists know it produces and controls some hormones like melatonin. Melatonin regulates our sleep patterns. Alzheimer’s disease patients are commonly deficient in melatonin levels. Calcification of the pineal gland has been discovered in two-thirds of the adult population. While the exact cause of this calcium buildup is not understood completely, one possible culprit is fluoride exposure. Another culprit is inorganic calcium. Whatever the reason, researchers note:

“[T]he presence of lesions in the pineal gland, which may be attributable to different causes (old age, or exposure to cytotoxic materials or environmental contaminants), would result in development of calcification, the extent of which would increase with more severe injury, with lower concentrations of crystallization inhibitors (pyrophosphate and phytate) and/or with reduced ability of the immune system. Calcification of the pineal gland would lead to a loss of function, decreasing the excretion of melatonin. This reduction in melatonin would both generate a further increase in oxidative injury (because of a fall in antioxidant capacity) and would be responsible for an increase in the deposition of b-amyloid protein, which is associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, a dearth of crystallization inhibitors could be a risk factor for development of Alzheimer’s disease, and this hypothesis should be further evaluated.”

If calcification in the brain is a root-cause of Alzheimer’s disease, then several steps could be taken to minimize risk. Removing sources of inorganic calcium as contained in many supplements, eliminating pasteurized dairy, and avoiding foods where inorganic calcium has been added to fortify the food (orange juice, breads, cereals, etc.) could reduce these deposits in the soft tissues of the body. I will address the problem of how fluoride contributes to calcium accumulation in the next issue of the eZine. 

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