Alzheimer’s Fears: Research Isn’t Helping

Alzheimer’s runs in my family.  Not that anyone has been tested, but I’ve seen great aunts and uncles suffer from it.  My grandmother died in her early 50s so her body didn’t have time to develop it.  I do know that my father is terrified of the disease.  He has told me that if he goes out on a boat and never comes back, that will be why. There is a lot of research on Alzheimer’s and what causes it, but so far they are learning better ways to identify it earlier so you’ll know if you might be at risk for getting it, but they haven’t figured out very much about how to treat it and stop it’s progression.  Delay it a little, yes, but still at some point your mind is gone and your spouse or children or strangers have to take care of everything for you and you won’t even realize it.  The newest study, conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and printed in the journal Neurology, shows that there are physical signs of brain atrophy as many as ten years before symptoms ever develop. I know that this could be a step, and maybe even THE step, that finds the cure for this debilitating disease.  But knowing that I’m going to have it would be scary, maybe too scary.  It would certainly send my father to the dock to outfit his boat for that last trip so he was ready when he felt it was time.  Getting a genetic predisposition test and recognizing symptoms may allow you to be treated and delay the onset...

Start Early to Prevent Dementia in Old Age

Many people are afraid of finding out that they may get Alzheimer’s disease or any other form of dementia, primarily because there is no treatment.  Would you want to know that you won’t recognize your spouse or children and that you won’t be able to take care of yourself?  Maybe not, if there was nothing you could do to stop it!  Then every slip of the tongue or forgetful moment could cause a panic attack. Would you be able to look forward to your “golden” years?  I don’t know if I would.  Because most people don’t think about it until they already have full blown symptoms, there isn’t much that can be done.  New research is being developed that could detect signs of dementia in patients in their 40s that could allow for preventive changes in diet and exercise that could delay or even prevent the disorder. One test, a computer screening test, takes only 30 seconds and identifies white matter lesions in the temporal lobe that appear to be related to early signs of dementia.  Another is a verbal screening test, dubbed the “Sweet 16” for the 16 questions in the test that appears to be as effective or better than the current standard test the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) which identifies dementia symptoms in older patients allowing for quick and easy detection.  There are also Genetic Predisposition Tests that can look at your overall genetic pattern and possible risk of Alzheimer’s and other diseases.  Knowing that there are more ways being developed that can identify this dreaded disease and preventive measures you can take means maybe we won’t...

Alzheimer’s Has a High Price Tag

There are many reasons to continue research into what causes Alzheimer’s and how to prevent it, not least of which is the high cost this cruel disease exacts in financial terms.  Alzheimer’s Disease International, a non-profit organization based in the United Kingdom, presented in their 2010 World Alzheimer Report the financial burden placed on society by those suffering with the disease.  The medical costs of care are higher in wealthier countries because more of the care is provided by healthcare professionals.  In developing countries the cost is much lower, not due to lack of care, but because the care is provided at home by family members and not by professionals.  The time expended is still very high and poses a burden to families. The report indicated that the costs of dementia will rise significantly.  Alzheimer’s Disease International recommends that cost effective medical and social strategies need to be developed to assist the families and the individuals affected throughout the course of the illness.  Additionally, evidence-based prevention strategies need to be developed and implemented.  Tests can provide information about individuals’ risks of contracting the disease but the financial burden isn’t lessened by early detection.  Written by...

Is Your Air Contaminated?

Mercury contamination is a serious health threat that many are not aware exists all around us.  Coal burning accounts for 40% of the atmospheric mercury that we are exposed to and the health risks are especially high for the unborn and the very young.  Coal burning plants produce approximately 45% of the electricity in the United States and are concentrated in the deep South, with Texas being the worst offender.  During 1999 and 2000 between 300,000 and 600,000 children were born with high levels of mercury in their systems leading to the strong possiblity of neurological disorders.  Exposure to mercury is known to increase the risks associated with autism, mental impairment and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Tests to determine the level of mercury in your system are available.  Unfortunately, coal burning is not the only source of mercury in our atmosphere and the overall level found in Americans is increasing.  Until levels of mercury in the environment have been lowered there are several supplements that can protect your body for this toxic heavy metal, including N-acetyl L-cysteine, R-lipoic acid, Aged garlic extract, magnesium and selenium. Written by...

Is Inflammation Causing Your Body to Age Faster?

Several studies have shown that high levels of an inflammatory cytokine, IL-6, can lead to many of the symptoms that we typically associate with aging.  A cytokine is a substance that is secreted by specific cells of the immune system which carry signals locally between cells, and thus have an effect on other cells.  The Type 2 cytokines, including IL-6, favor antibody responses and dysregulation or problems with their response have been linked with chronic inflammation. Inflammation over time can cause such muscle loss, anemia, Type 2 Diabetes and insulin resistance, poor immune function, depression, anxiety, an inability to think clearly, cancer and even, strokes and heart attacks.  There are certain specific illnesses and environmental toxins that can increase the amount of inflammatory cytokines that our bodies produce and if we can avoid as many of these as possible, perhaps we could delay some of the negative aspects of aging.  These include chronic, unrelieved stress, untreated or unseen infections, exposure to certain toxins, such as herbicides and pesticides and pro-inflammatory fats like vegetable fats.  Living in the US, it is impossible to avoid all of these and there are tests that can measure the level of C-Reactive Protein in your system, which is an indication of inflammation, so you know if you should take action to reduce chronic inflammation.  There is something you can do to feel healthier as you...