Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease?

I was motivated to write this reply to this post on another blog Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease?
which was written in response to the post by Mercola.

Astaxanthin: A Rising Star in Alzheimer's Prevention

I'll deal with what I think are the most likely strategies to preventing or delaying the onset of demetia in the next blog probably in response to Susan Graig's next post.

Well I hope the next post is a little more constructive and helpful to people who come to this blog hoping to find some sensible evidence based suggestions that may enable them to delay the onset of Alzheimer's or other dementias.
Mercola has provided a link to his source of statistics and I while using the upper figures from the ranges provided isn't distorting them unduly. Bear in mind Mercola has had several previous run ins with the FDA and doesn't have many friends in consensus medical opinion so ALL his online statements HAVE to be checked by his legal team before he can write anything. Only AFTER they have been double checked to see if they would stand up to legal scrutiny is he permitted to post. 
I think the one in four people being affected by Alzheimer's includes the relatives carer's and other close family. I'm sure everyone with an Alzheimer's relative is affected by that and the stress it imposes on the family and friends. 
I think your claim that we are living longer healthier lives is mistaken. Sure we may at the moment be living longer but surely not healthier lives. I don't know how many people you know aged 70 but try asking how many medications they are taking and what side effects they are experiencing? Sure I know a lot of blokes my age with Prostate cancer and while they certainly are still alive it's not the same quality of life that they experienced before treatment. Try asking how many are on statins and what the side effects of those are and any reasonable person would question if the trade off between the claimed risk reduction and the actual side effects they are experiencing is actually worth it is certainly debatable. Early detection of many conditions now doesn't necessarily lead to any reduction in all cause mortality but certainly leads to increased medical costs, treatments and other  iatrogenic consequences.  
While it is true that 10% of Alzheimer's is attributed to genetic predisposition I think it would have been better if you had pointed out this is mainly through the maternal DNA so people whose fathers but not mothers had AD can ignore that potential risk factor. While it may be different in the USA, in the UK I'm not sure that most people appreciate that the genetic predisposition for AD is generally through the maternal side. While genes certainly load the gun it's still environmental/dietary factors that pull the trigger, so even if your mother did get AD and you have had your DNA checked and found you  carried the risk that still does not mean there is absolutely nothing you could try to prevent or delay onset of AD. 
You will have to apply a bit of common sense and have an element of luck but I think it's simply untrue to state that 90% of Alzheimer’s cases are sporadic, meaning the disease occurs for no apparent reason. 
We know what the basic risk factors for AD are and we know roughly (though I accept not all the dots are as yet connected) how this impacts on disease initiation therefore I contend that most of the suggestions Mercola makes are sufficiently evidence based to be worthy of investing some time examining the evidence he uses and which are also supported by papers listed at Pubmed. 
We have to take Alzheimer's incidence very seriously in the light of the explosion in obesity and diabetes. These conditions predispose people to increased risk of dementia so it shouldn't be hard to work out that AD incidence will inevitably also increase.
Therefore to do everything possible to reduce hyperglycaemia and conditions that result from raised levels of inflammation is simply common sense.  
There was a recent report of a 68 yr old woman on being given an Alzheimer's diagnosis immediately walking in front of a train, irrespective of whether this was a direct result of knowing the diagnosis or just a consequence of the condition (obviously we'll never know)  we should not give people the impression an Alzheimer's diagnosis is a fate worse than death and that pharmaceutical drugs are the only or even the best way of managing this dreadful condition. We ought be talking about The Myth of Alzheimer's, What You Aren't Being Told About Today's Most Dreaded Diagnosis  Aging with Dignity; Aging with Hope


  1. Mercola's article lists Vitamin D3 as one of his Nutritional deficiencies and suggests 25(OH)D levels between 50~70ng/ml (125~175nmol/l) as optimal.
    City Assays Vitamin D Blood Spot Test charge £25 UK £30 outside, and they offer a bulk buy discount for 10 kits. If anyone want's to buy my spares at £20 plus postage (cost price no profit)I'm very happy to share the benefits of bulk discounts. swabymanor@gmail.com will find me.

  2. Eating a low glycemic diet that is also low in fat, if adopted early on in life, might just help prevent Alzheimer's disease according to some latest research.

    Alzheimer specialist