The University of Rochester Medical Center reports that exposure to copper, even in low amounts found in drinking water, food, and vitamins, is likely to lead to Alzheimer's disease. Copper is an important mineral necessary for nerve, hormone, and bone function. However, there is a specific balance that must be achieved in order to avoid crossing the line into high amounts of copper that can damage a protective barrier on the brain. Copper accumulates in the brain over time and breaks down the barrier in the brain that keeps out toxins. The toxins eventually overwhelm the brain and lead to inflammation and eventually Alzheimer's. The research may lead to recommendations to change diets and routine practices, such as drinking tap water that has been sufficiently filtered to clear it of copper from pipes. In addition, researchers are working on trial drugs that can help to prevent the disease by introducing agents that bind to the copper molecules and take them out of the body's system.