- The New University of Kentucky study
found there appears to be no harm from mercury fillings. "Although
very small amounts of mercury are released from dental amalgam - generally
when rubbed or abraded due to brushing or eating - it is not taken up by
the brain," said Dr. Stanley Saxe, one of the authors of the study
published in Monday's Journal of the American Dental Association. Saxe
is a professor emeritus of periodontics and geriatric dentistry in the
UK College of Dentistry. Dental amalgam has been used since the early 1830s
and receives high marks for its strength and durability. But amalgam is
composed of 50 percent mercury, a neurotoxin, causing controversy over
its possible public health risk. Some dentists have encouraged patients
to have their amalgam fillings removed and replaced by other tooth restoration
materials. The researchers began their study in 1991, funded by a grant
from the National Institutes of Health. They examined the brains of 68
people with Alzheimer's and a control group of 33 who were not affected.
Zaven Khachaturian, former director of Alzheimer,s research at NIH, said
the question about a possible Alzheimers-mercury connection has been around
for a long time. "The finding by the Kentucky group, I think, is quite
significant for the Alzheimer's constituency and their families, to at
least alleviate some of the concerns they have," said Khachaturian
now retired senior consultant to the Alzheimer's Association.
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