Iron and Copper Bad for the Brain?

DNA repair from curcumin, a South Asian spice

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Iron and copper are common metals used to make cars, pots, and other inanimate objects, but they are also very important in the body. Too much iron and copper can be bad for the brain.

Iron and copper can be found in small healthy amounts in the body, but researchers have found that some people have tissues that contain extra iron and copper. The extra iron and copper may prevent DNA repair from working properly.

"Curcumin spice can protect you from metal overload."

The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston discovered a connection between iron and copper and degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer and Parkinson's.

The cause of neurodegenerative disorders has not been found, but there are two common factors associated with brain disorders: DNA damage and excessive iron and copper levels.

Muralidhar Hedge, one of the lead authors of the study, suggest that unrepaired DNA damage can initiate brain damage. High levels of iron or copper generate large numbers of DNA attacking oxygen species, while also interfering with DNA repair.

The excess iron and copper turn into "free" circulating metals that spark chemical reactions making reactive oxygen species that are the cause of the majority of brain damage in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Hedge and colleagues found that curcumin, a South Asian spice, was able to protect DNA repair pathways so that excessive iron and copper levels could not interfere with DNA repair.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 23, 2011
Last Updated:
May 27, 2011