ANSWER: Copper has been linked to an Alzheimer’s-type condition in laboratory mice. I recall a similar interest about aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease back in the 1990s, and it turned out not to be a significant issue. Because copper is a necessary nutrient and present in many healthy foods, I would not try to reduce copper intake based on the current information. It is possible (but I think unlikely) that reducing copper intake eventually will be shown to reduce Alzheimer’s, but I wouldn’t change your diet now.
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 73-year-old woman, and I have blockages in the arteries of my legs and my carotid artery. I am unable to tolerate any kind of cholesterol medicine, and my doctor told me to try red yeast rice. — C.M.L.
ANSWER: Red yeast rice, a fermented rice product used in Chinese medicine for blood circulation, contains substances that act in a similar way to statin drugs. They generally are well-tolerated, and in one study lowered cholesterol levels by about 20 percent. It isn’t clear whether this reduced risk of heart attack or stroke. Also, these products are not regulated, and have variability in their effects. Finally, no long-term studies have been done to prove safety.
That being said, because of your poor reaction to other kinds of treatments, it may be worth trying if you understand these concerns.