Saturday, February 29, 2020

How Stress and the Body's Immune Response May Lead to Alzheimer's Disease

This is a really important article about the roles stress (and the attendant emotions of anxiety and depression) play in the development of Alzheimer's Disease. We've known higher incidents of anxiety and depression are associated with dementia for decades. And I've talked about it on this blog a lot. What we haven't understood is the physical aspects of this connection (the immune system response) and whether there is actual cause and effect. Now science is saying there is.

There's a lot to unpack in this article which is why I recommend clicking on the link. My takeaway, however, is that Alzheimer's disease involves multiple systems in the body that work hand in hand to create the conditions that lead to dementia. Chronic emotional states play a BIG role, especially when not mitigated by exercise and social involvement. None of this has been unknown. The news is that now that there is scientific proof maybe we can get more effective non-pharmaceutical treatments to address these factors in addition to whatever medicines can help soothe people and control the symptoms.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

So Pfizer Won't Be Funding Alzheimer's Drug Research Anymore? So What!

A column by Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times says that Pfizer Pharmaceuticals is using money they're getting from the Trump-Republican Tax Cut to pay off their shareholders and end their involvement in Alzheimer's drug research. About 300 researchers will lose their jobs as the money is shunted to other projects. Hiltzik was criticizing them for this decision and I normally would agree with him!

But I used to work for the Alzheimer's Association and for a caregiver resource center supporting family members taking care of people with this disease and other dementia-causing illnesses. And, while I know all those wonderful people I used to support who are desperately praying for a drug-cure for this disease might be feeling horrifically devastated by this news right now, I think the end of this relationship might be worth celebrating!

Maybe now the REAL causes and cures for Alzheimer's Disease can be the focus of the Alzheimer's Association instead of looking for a drug cure. Yes, I said it, the REAL causes. My opinion, backed by a LOT of recent research, is that -- except for the genetic version of Alzheimer's which represents a very small % of those who get the disease -- the cause of Alzheimer's Disease and a lot of other types of dementia is almost definitely way too much sugar consumption (eventually crowding out any real nutrition), loneliness and depression. You can add in lack of exercise for those who actually have vascular dementia (you can't get a definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease without an autopsy). And we have known about some of these factors for at least a decade!

We need a societal cure, not a drug cure. And I believe that is one of the reasons Pfizer is withdrawing their research dollars. If the research continues to support the idea that diet and depression are the biggest factors, there's no point in Pfizer continuing their drug-cure based investment. They already make symptom-covering drugs! All the literature, videos and slide shows that Pfizer used to give to the Alzheimer's Association came with "info" about Aricept or whatever other drug they were promoting at the time. In return, the Alzheimer's Association put almost all their efforts into raising money for drug cure research. 

As far as I'm concerned, it's just fine for this symbiotic relationship to end. Have them put the money where it counts.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Alzheimer's Drug Might End the Need for Fillings

News of the weird or something pretty awesome? The Telegraph is reporting on a new study indicating that an Alzheimer's drug based on stem cell research still in clinical trials appears to regrow teeth and repair tooth decay. Not only that, it can do it quickly—within 6 weeks! Sounds awesome to me but, of course, clinical trials need to be done to make sure it's safe.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Sleep Deprivation Linked to Risk for Alzheimer's Disease

Links don't always indicate which came first: the chicken or the egg. Is a tendency not to sleep much at night an indicator of early-stage dementia OR the cause of dementia later in life? Sleep scientists suspect the later!

In addition to Alzheimer's Disease, people who get less than the recommended 8 hours of sleep at night also seem to be at significantly greater risk for cancer, diabetes, obesity and poor mental health. Lack of adequate sleep has a horrific effect on the immune system. It makes it difficult to fully process and heal from emotional upsets, it raises your blood pressure, and leads to problems with anger management and depression. It also impairs a vast array of significant bodily processes including your brain's ability to clear the brain cell killing amyloid plaque build-ups associated with Alzheimer's Disease!

So, if you're reading this late at night, go to bed! Make it a habit to have a nice luxurious guilt-free nap or earlier bedtime part of your every day routine. You'll be SO glad you did!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Eliminate Sugar to Greatly Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer's Disease

Giving up sugar will not eliminate ALL Alzheimer's Disease but according to a recent study cited in this article in Psychology Today, 80% of all Alzheimer's patients have insulin resistance or type 2 Diabetes. In fact, Alzheimer's Disease is now being called Type 3 Diabetes or insulin resistance of the brain. The Psychology Today article says "preventing Alzheimer's Disease is easier than you think" -- just give up sugar! Well, that's not so easy, especially if you have developed a dependency. Sugar is highly addictive and if you or someone you love is lonely or depressed, giving up that legal sweet comfort can be highly problematic! But well worth doing. Substitute fruit for sugary desserts, whole foods for all refined carbohydrates, go out for a walk, do something with the grandkids or volunteer. And some of my last suggestions are the most important. Science shows that happier people are far less likely to succumb to addiction and have a far easier time letting go of an addiction that has already been installed.