By Crawford KilianToday | TheTyee.ca Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee and at 77 considers himself “cognitively OK.”
According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, 1,125,000 Canadians will have dementia in 20 years. The cumulative economic burden will be $872 billion, and the demand for long-term care will increase tenfold.
In 2008, just over 100,000 new dementia cases were diagnosed each year in Canada. By 2038, the ASC predicts more than 250,000 new cases each year. About half of those diagnosed with dementia will have Alzheimer’s disease.
Like death itself, such numbers don’t bear thinking about. Nor do we want to think about our own partners and children dedicating their old age to caring for us.
But a lot of experts are thinking hard about this problem, and one of them is 90-year-old neuroscientist Dr. Patrick McGeer. Now CEO of Aurin Biotech, McGeer had a long career at the University of British Columbia as well as a tumultuous one as a Liberal and Socred MLA and cabinet minister from 1962 to 1986. He may have dropped out of the public eye after leaving politics, but McGeer has kept very busy.
Since 1990, McGeer has been studying the causes of Alzheimer’s. Now, almost 30 years later, he says a simple test can identify those at risk, and an over-the-counter pain reliever can prevent it.
When we hear a strong claim, we expect strong evidence. And if the evidence holds up, we need to explore the implications.
A ‘crazy hypothesis’
McGeer’s evidence is indeed generally strong. In a recent review article in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, McGeer and his colleagues summarize how their view of Alzheimer’s went from a “crazy hypothesis” in the 1980s to today’s widely accepted view that neuroinflammation causes damage to brain cells. That in turn results in Alzheimer’s.
In 1990, McGeer reported in the British journal The Lancet that patients using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) for rheumatoid arthritis seemed to develop fewer cases of Alzheimer’s than statistics said they should. Further research indicated that a major cause of neuroinflammation was a buildup of “amyloid-β” protein in the brain. Eventually, over years, this Aβ buildup destroys nearby nerve cells and results in Alzheimer’s.
Further research by McGeer and others established that NSAIDS — like aspirin and ibuprofen — could reduce the number of Alzheimer’s cases below the rate to be expected in a given group. But there was no effect unless the NSAIDS were administered well before the members of the group were statistically likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Once diagnosed, Alzheimer’s wasn’t affected by NSAIDS.
McGeer and his team found a solution: Aβ may accumulate in brain cells, but it’s produced in all body tissues. A simple saliva test seems able to detect Aβ levels — and these can predict the likelihood that a given individual will develop Alzheimer’s. Some people produce low levels of Aβ all their lives, and don’t develop Alzheimer’s; other produce high levels, and are virtually certain to develop it.
Six phases of Alzheimer’s
In their review article, McGeer and his colleagues wrote: “A theoretical construct suggests the development of AD [Alzheimer’s] goes through six phases, each with decreasing opportunity for therapeutic intervention. Since the prevalence of clinical AD commences at age 65, the prevalence for actual AD disease onset can be hypothesized to occur at least 10 years earlier, or at age 55. Without intervention, the prevalence will then double every five years…. Any strategy which limits Aβ production, enhances its clearance, or prevents its aggregation, should be disease modifying. Effectiveness of treatment should be measurable by CSF Aβ levels returning toward normal.”
A major Canadian observational study identified alcohol use disorders as the biggest risk factor for the onset of dementia. It’s also the most preventable factor, so people wary of early-onset dementia can avoid it by controlling their alcohol intake, reported a ScienceDaily article.
Implemented by the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and published in The Lancet Public Health journal, the study took a very close look at the effect of alcohol use disorders. To this end, it canvassed the health records of more than a million French citizens.
The study included patients with mental and behavioral disorders or chronic diseases caused by chronic heavy drinking.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “chronic heavy drinking” is defined as the daily consumption of more than 60 grams of pure alcohol for men and 40 grams for women. WHO identifies alcohol consumption as the root cause of more than 200 diseases and injuries, including mental and behavioral disorders.
For their study, CAMH researchers viewed 57,000 cases of early-onset dementia, where the patient developed dementia before turning 65. They found that 57 percent of these cases were linked to chronic heavy drinking.
The significant association between chronic heavy drinking and dementia led the authors to suggest several actions that would reduce the burden of dementia attributed to alcohol. They believed screening, brief interventions for heavy drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders would be highly effective in curbing the onset of dementia.
“The findings indicate that heavy drinking and alcohol use disorders are the most important risk factors for dementia, and especially important for those types of dementia which start before age 65, and which lead to premature deaths,” remarked Dr. Jürgen Rehm, the co-author of the massive study and Director of the CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research.
He warned that alcohol use disorders have been proven to reduce life expectancy by more than 20 years. He identified dementia as a major cause of death for people who suffered from alcohol-related disorders.
More women suffer from dementia, but more men get early-onset dementia
Dr. Rehm and his team identified a major gender split for early-onset dementia patients. Women comprised the majority of dementia patients, but two out of every three early-onset dementia patients turned out to be men.
Other independent risk factors for the onset of dementia included smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and hearing loss. These factors are also linked to alcohol use disorders.
The data from the study imply that alcohol use disorders can increase the risk of dementia in more ways than one.
“As a geriatric psychiatrist, I frequently see the effects of alcohol use disorder on dementia, when unfortunately alcohol treatment interventions may be too late to improve cognition,” said Dr. Bruce Pollock, co-author and Vice-President of Research for CAMH.
Much like his colleague, Dr. Pollock advised treating the alcohol use disorder ahead of time before dementia takes over.
“Screening for and reduction of problem drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders need to start much earlier in primary care,” he said.
One limitation of the study was that it only covered the most severe cases of alcohol use disorder. The authors explained that they focused on cases that required hospitalization.
Patients are often reluctant to report alcohol-related problems due to social stigma regarding alcoholics. The correlation between alcoholism and dementia could be even higher than the study has shown.
Summary: According to researchers, alcohol use disorder poses an increased risk for the early development of dementia.
Alcohol use disorders are the most important preventable risk factors for the onset of all types of dementia, especially early-onset dementia. This according to a nationwide observational study, published in The Lancet Public Health journal, of over one million adults diagnosed with dementia in France.
This study looked specifically at the effect of alcohol use disorders, and included people who had been diagnosed with mental and behavioural disorders or chronic diseases that were attributable to chronic harmful use of alcohol.
Of the 57,000 cases of early-onset dementia (before the age of 65), the majority (57%) were related to chronic heavy drinking.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines chronic heavy drinking as consuming more than 60 grams pure alcohol on average per day for men (4-5 Canadian standard drinks) and 40 grams (about 3 standard drinks) per day for women.
As a result of the strong association found in this study, the authors suggest that screening, brief interventions for heavy drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders should be implemented to reduce the alcohol-attributable burden of dementia.
“The findings indicate that heavy drinking and alcohol use disorders are the most important risk factors for dementia, and especially important for those types of dementia which start before age 65, and which lead to premature deaths,” says study co-author and Director of the CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research Dr. Jürgen Rehm. “Alcohol-induced brain damage and dementia are preventable, and known-effective preventive and policy measures can make a dent into premature dementia deaths.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines chronic heavy drinking as consuming more than 60 grams pure alcohol on average per day for men (4-5 Canadian standard drinks) and 40 grams (about 3 standard drinks) per day for women. NeuroscienceNews.com image is adapted from the CAMH news release.
Dr. Rehm points out that on average, alcohol use disorders shorten life expectancy by more than 20 years, and dementia is one of the leading causes of death for these people.
For early-onset dementia, there was a significant gender split. While the overall majority of dementia patients were women, almost two-thirds of all early-onset dementia patients (64.9%) were men.
Alcohol use disorders were also associated with all other independent risk factors for dementia onset, such as tobacco smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, lower education, depression, and hearing loss, among modifiable risk factors. It suggests that alcohol use disorders may contribute in many ways to the risk of dementia.
“As a geriatric psychiatrist, I frequently see the effects of alcohol use disorder on dementia, when unfortunately alcohol treatment interventions may be too late to improve cognition,” says CAMH Vice-President of Research Dr. Bruce Pollock. “Screening for and reduction of problem drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders need to start much earlier in primary care.” The authors also noted that only the most severe cases of alcohol use disorder – ones involving hospitalization – were included in the study. This could mean that, because of ongoing stigma regarding the reporting of alcohol-use disorders, the association between chronic heavy drinking and dementia may be even stronger.
Scientists are continuously discovering new ways that cannabis can benefit human health. Typically, researchers publish these discoveries in peer-reviewed journals. Yet, most cannabis research never makes its way into mainstream news. In the public eye, these studies go unnoticed.
Here are five examples of cannabis research that warrant our attention.
Opioids have recently received a fair share of scrutiny, and for a good reason. Thomas Gilson, the medical examiner for Cuyahoga County, Ohio, stated:
“If you look at how many people die in the country from opiate overdose, we’re looking at the same number of casualties as the entire Vietnam conflict.”
Could cannabis be a safer treatment for pain, without the high risk of overdose?
New cannabis research from Israel examined the safety of cannabis use among the elderly. The researchers administered cannabis treatment to 2,736 patients, with a median age of 74.5.
Research participants answered an initial questionnaire. During the study, two-thirds of the participants took cannabis for pain, and another 60.8% for cancer. After six months of cannabis treatment, the researchers administered another questionnaire.
After six months of treatment, 93.7% of the respondents reported improvement in their condition and the reported pain level was reduced from a median of 8 on a scale of 0-10 to a median of 4. After six months, 18.1% stopped using opioid analgesics or reduced their does.
Our study finds that the therapeutic use of cannabis is safe and efficacious in the elderly population. Cannabis use may decrease the use of other prescription medicines, including opioids.
This research shows that cannabis has promise when it comes to offering an alternative to opioids.
2. Cannabis May Protect Alcohol Users from Liver Disease
We’ve all heard that drinking too much alcohol compromises liver health. Do the observed anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis also affect the development of liver disease?
A group of researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School set out to “determine the effects of cannabis use on the incidence of liver disease in individuals who abuse alcohol.” In their study, they analyzed discharge records from the 2014 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project – Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS)
They studied four phases of liver disease in 319,000 patients, who had a past or current history of abusive alcohol use. The stages include: alcoholic steatosis (AS) or alcoholic fatty liver; steatohepatitis (AH) or non-alcoholic fatty liver; cirrhosis (AC); and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or essentially liver cancer.
Our study revealed that among alcohol users, individuals who additionally use cannabis (dependent and non-dependent cannabis use) showed significantly lower odds of developing AS, AH, AC and HCC. Further, dependent users had significantly lower odds than non-dependent users for developing liver disease.
One of the biggest anti-cannabis arguments is that it impairs our cognitive abilities. Yet, is cannabis really all that bad for the brain?
According to recent animal research published in May 2017, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has a beneficial influence on the aging brain. Researchers tested the learning, memory, orientation and recognition skills in laboratory animals. They found that 18-month-old mice given THC demonstrated cognitive skills equal to 2-month-old controls. On the other hand, the placebo group showed cognitive deterioration normal in their age group.
Neurobiologist Andreas Zimmer of the University of Bonn stated:
The treatment completely reversed the loss of performance in the old animals. We repeated these experiments many times. It’s a very robust and profound effect.” Even more remarkable, gene activity and the molecular profile in the brain tissue was that of much younger animals. Specifically, neurons in the hippocampus grew more synaptic spines — points of contact necessary for communication between neurons.
Rather than dulling or impairing cognition, THC appears to reverse the aging process and improve mental processes. This raises the possibility it might be useful for the treatment of dementia.
4. Cannabinoids Have Anti-Tumor Potential
There is a plethora of anecdotal evidence that cannabinoids have helped patients slow down, control or even reverse cancer disease. Thus, many researchers have set out to understand the exact effect that cannabinoids have on cancer cells.
Specifically, much research surrounds the effects of THC and cannabidiol (CBD) cannabinoids, with many studies concluding that cannabis kills cancer cells.
For example, Dr. Christina Sanchez from the Complutense University of Madrid was involved in several studies that indicated THC is a cancer killer. One of her studies entailed the application of THC compounds to brain cancer cell cultures.
Sanchez and her team discovered that after being treated with THC, cancer cells were committing suicide. Sanchez explains why cannabis treatment is preferred over conventional treatments:
One of the advantages of cannabinoids, or cannabinoid based medicines, would be that they target a specifically, tumor cells. They don’t have any toxic effect on normal, non-tumoral cells. This is an advantage with respect to standard chemotherapy that target basically everything.
In another study, a synthetic form of THC called Dronabinol was just as effective. Researchers from University Hospital Tübingen in Germany evaluated the anti-leukemic efficacy of THC. They administered this cannabinoid to several types of leukemia cells ex vivo.
Our study provides rigorous data to support clinical evaluation of THC as a low-toxic therapy option in a well-defined subset of acute leukemia patients.
Mounting cannabis research indicates that cannabinoids may become the most promising cancer treatments yet available. Dr. Allen Herman, Chief Medical Officer at Cannabis Science, states:
Cannabis Science believes that cannabis extracts are critical instruments in cancer treatment and that we have an obligation to produce and make available the most effective and efficient cannabis products to our anti-cancer modalities.
5. Cannabis’ Impact on Cardiovascular Health is Still Unclear
There is some speculation that cannabis use may increase your risk of hypertension. But how much do we really know about the link between cardiovascular health and cannabis?
A group of researchers in California, Pennsylvania and New York evaluated 24 studies to see if they could identify a clear correlation. All the studies enrolled adults using some form of cannabis.
Some of the evaluated studies examined associations between cannabis use and vascular risk factors. These risk factors include hyperglycemia, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and obesity. The remainder of the studies examined the link between cannabis use and outcomes such as stroke, myocardial infarction, cardiovascular mortality, and all-cause mortality.
In the end, the researchers concluded that all of the evaluated studies were insufficient in offering sound evidence.
Evidence examining the effect of marijuana on diabetes, dyslipidemia, acute myocardial infarction, stroke, or cardiovascular and all-cause mortality was insufficient. Although the current literature includes several long-term prospective studies, they are limited by recall bias, inadequate exposure assessment, minimal marijuana exposure, and a predominance of low-risk cohorts.
The lack of mainstream reporting on cannabis research results from persistent opposition to the medical cannabis movement. Federal drug laws have stigmatized cannabis use, equating it to heroine and crack cocaine. As well, the mainstream medical industry aligns with the belief that cannabis is a dangerous drug. Therefore, it will take some time for the mainstream to recognize and publicize discoveries of the many health benefits of cannabis.
Regardless, it is important to remember that potential downsides to cannabis use do exist. As with all substances that affect the body, adverse effects may surface. With cannabis, for example, these effects include dizziness and increased anxiety. All the researchers involved in the studies mentioned herein have concluded that more cannabis research is imperative to fully understand the benefits and potential dangers of this plant.
Anna Hunt is writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Waking Times or its staff.
The President says it’s all lies, but the author insists he has 200 taped interviews with aides.
“IT’S ALL LIES!”
January 5, 2018
Donald Trump’s desperate attempt to ban a bombshell book about his presidency looked to have failed last night as its publishers brought the on-sale date forward to today.
The US President had ordered his lawyers to stop the publication of damaging claims against him and his family, including suggestions that his White House inner circle believed he was incapable of functioning as commander-in-chief.
The lacerating claims appear in a book by Michael Wolff, who said he had hours of taped conversations with some of Mr Trump’s closest aides, including former chief strategist Steve Bannon.
Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House portrays Mr Trump as a reluctant President surrounded by a politically ambitious family and an administration divided by in-fighting.
A spokesman for Henry Holt & Co, the book’s publishers, said last night: ‘Due to unprecedented demand, we are moving the onsale date for all formats of Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff, to Friday, January 5… from the current on-sale date of January 9.’
The book quotes Mr Bannon as saying Donald Trump Jnr’s meeting with a group of Russians was ‘treasonous’, son-in-law Jared Kushner was involved in ‘greasy’ finance deals, daughter Ivanka was as ‘dumb as a brick’ and wife Melania ‘was in tears’ – and not of joy’ when he won the election.
Perhaps most damagingly, Mr Wolff said his access to the West Wing had convinced him that administration officials did not believe Mr Trump, 71, was capable of fulfilling his role as President. He said he had failed to recognise a series of friends at New Year, could not stop repeating anecdotes and behaved erratically, including eating in his locked bedroom because he was gripped by paranoia his food could be poisoned.
LD: Apparently paranoid about being poisoned by his chefs, the President has been accused of locking himself in his bedroom and eating cheeseburgers from McDonalds while watching TV on three screens. He and his wife Melania sleep in separate bedrooms. His enemies are also suggesting that he is suffering is from incipient dementia. He cannot remember the names and faces of his friends, it is being said, and keeps repeating the same stories again and again. How much of this is true is anyone’s guess.
Mr Trump’s lawyer Charles Harder yesterday served ‘cease and desist’ letters on Mr Wolff and his publishers. An 11-page legal letter said Mr Trump’s lawyers were investigating ‘numerous false and/or baseless statements’ in the book, and threatened legal action for libel and breach of contract, as Mr Bannon had signed a confidentiality agreement.
Another legal letter was sent to Mr Bannon, who was chief executive of the Trump presidential campaign from August 2016 and was the White House chief strategist for the first seven months of the presidency, until he was forced out. The White House also announced an immediate ban on personal mobile phones for staff and visitors to the West Wing in an apparent crackdown on leaks.
Mr Wolff said his book was based on 200 interviews, including several conversations with the President and senior staff, and that he had hours of tapes of his interviews. Several aides quoted in the book either denied they had spoken to Mr Wolff, or said they had been misquoted.
White House Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Mr Trump was ‘furious’ and ‘disgusted’ by the ‘outrageous’ and completely false claims. She said Mr Wolff had had only ‘one brief conversation’ with Mr Trump since he took office and much of the book was ‘completely untrue’.
A spokesman for the First Lady said: ‘This book is clearly going to be sold in the bargain fiction section. Mrs Trump supported her husband’s decision to run for President and in fact, encouraged him to do so. She was confident he would win and was very happy when he did.’
Mr Trump said just three months ago that he had ‘a very good relationship’ with Mr Bannon. And despite his apparently savage comments about the Trump inner circle, Mr Bannon insisted he supported the President, calling him ‘a great man’. Mr Bannon was reported to have told associates he believed Mr Trump had been ill-served by some of his closest allies, including Donald Jnr and Mr Kushner. He said: ‘The President of the United States is a great man… you know I support him, day in and day out.’
Mr Trump repeated Mr Bannon’s comments to journalists last night, saying: ‘He obviously changed his tune pretty quick.’ He added: ‘I don’t talk to him.’
Katie Walsh, the President’s former deputy chief of staff, who is quoted extensively in the book, said she did not remember ever talking to Mr Wolff, and denied she had said dealing with Mr Trump was ‘like trying to figure out what a child wants’. Tom Barrack, chairman of Mr Trump’s inauguration, denied he had called him ‘stupid’ and said: ‘It’s clear to anyone who knows me those are not my words.’
The row surrounding the book has seen it top the best-seller list on Amazon, based on pre-order sales. Lawyers said freedom of speech laws meant the President was unlikely to succeed in blocking its publication.
LD: I advise readers of this article to be highly skeptical of the claims made in this controversial book about Donald Trump. The little we know about the author of the book, Michael Wolff (pictured), does nor inspire confidence.
He has been noted for “his willingness to say absolutely anything about anybody” and has been repeatedly accused of inventing scenes and conversations in his books and articles. On one occasion, he even went so far as to admit he could be “unreliable” and confessed to making up a story about his father-in-law having had open heart surgery. The First Lady’s caustic comment — “This book is clearly going to be sold in the bargain fiction section” — has the ring of truth about it.
My own view is that this hatchet job on Donald Trump is more than likely to contain many half-truths, exaggerations, and fictitious conversations — if not some outright lies. I have just this very minute heard from a trusted correspondent of mine who writes: “I saw Kelly Ann Conway several times during election day and night, so I can attest that this Michael Wolff character is a big liar.”
What we have here in this new development, I suspect, is a desperate attempt to push the Trump presidency over the precipice by resorting to a ragbag of the dirtiest of dirty tricks imaginable. It is the character assassination of Donald Trump, pure and simple, with no punches pulled. If it doesn’t succeed in bringing Trump down, his physical assassination could well follow any time soon.
To quote a recent comment of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, “This is a war between the Jews and the non-Jews.” [LD]
Summary: A new study adds further weight to the theory that being educated may help to stave off Alzheimer’s disease.Source: University of Cambridge.The theory that education protects against Alzheimer’s disease has been given further weight by new research from the University of Cambridge, funded by the European Union. The study is published today in The BMJ.
Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia. Its chief hallmark is the build of ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles’ of misshapen proteins, which lead to the gradual death of brain cells. People affected by Alzheimer’s experience memory and communication problems, disorientation, changes in behaviour and progressive loss of independence.
The causes of Alzheimer’s are largely unknown, and attempts to develop drug treatments to halt or reverse its effects have been disappointing. This has led to increasing interest in whether it is possible to reduce the number of cases of Alzheimer’s disease by tackling common risk factors that can be modified. In fact, research from the Cambridge Institute of Public Health has shown that the incidence of Alzheimer’s is falling in the UK, probably due to improvements in education, and smoking reduction and better diet and exercise.
“Many studies have shown that certain risk factors are more common in people with Alzheimer’s disease, but determining whether these factors actually cause Alzheimer’s is more difficult,” says Professor Hugh Markus from the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge.
“For example, many studies have shown that the more years spent in full time education, the lower the risk of Alzheimer’s. But it is difficult to unravel whether this is an effect of education improving brain function, or whether it’s the case that people who are more educated tend to come from more wealthy backgrounds and therefore have a reduction in other risk factors that cause Alzheimer’s disease.”
Professor Markus led a study to unpick these factors using a technique known as ‘Mendelian randomisation’. This involves looking at an individual’s DNA and comparing genes associated with environmental risk factors – for example, genes linked to educational attainment or to smoking – and seeing which of these genes are also associated with Alzheimer’s disease. If a gene is associated with both, then it provides strong evidence that this risk factor really does cause the disease.
Exactly how education might reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s is uncertain. Previous studies have shown that the same amount of damage in the brain is associated with less severe and less frequent Alzheimer’s in people who have received more education. One possible explanation is the idea of ‘cognitive reserve’ – the ability to recruit alternative brain networks or to use brain structures or networks not normally used to compensate for brain ageing. Evidence suggests that education helps improve brain wiring and networks and hence could increase this reserve. NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
As part of a project known as CoSTREAM, researchers studied genetic variants that increase the risk of a variety of different environmental risk factors to see if these were more common in 17,000 patients with Alzheimer’s disease. They found the strongest association with genetic variants that predict higher educational attainment.
“This provides further strong evidence that education is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” says first author Dr Susanna Larsson, now based at the Karolinska Institute, Sweden. “It suggests that improving education could have a significant effect on reducing the number of people who suffer from this devastating disease.”
Exactly how education might reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s is uncertain. Previous studies have shown that the same amount of damage in the brain is associated with less severe and less frequent Alzheimer’s in people who have received more education. One possible explanation is the idea of ‘cognitive reserve’ – the ability to recruit alternative brain networks or to use brain structures or networks not normally used to compensate for brain ageing. Evidence suggests that education helps improve brain wiring and networks and hence could increase this reserve.
The researchers also looked at other environmental risk factors, including smoking, vitamin D, and alcohol and coffee consumption. However, their results proved inconclusive. This may be because genes that predispose to smoking, for example, have only a very small effect on behaviour, they say.
About this neuroscience research article
Funding: The study was supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme.
Source: Craig Brierley – University of Cambridge Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com. Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain. Original Research: Full open access research for “Modifiable pathways in Alzheimer’s disease: Mendelian randomisation analysis” by Susanna C Larsson, Matthew Traylor, Rainer Malik, Martin Dichgans, Stephen Burgess, and Hugh S Markus in The BMJ. Published online December 7 2017 doi:10.1136/bmj.j5375
Modifiable pathways in Alzheimer’s disease: Mendelian randomisation analysis
Objective To determine which potentially modifiable risk factors, including socioeconomic, lifestyle/dietary, cardiometabolic, and inflammatory factors, are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Design Mendelian randomisation study using genetic variants associated with the modifiable risk factors as instrumental variables.
Setting International Genomics of Alzheimer’s Project.
Participants 17 008 cases of Alzheimer’s disease and 37 154 controls.
Main outcome measures Odds ratio of Alzheimer’s per genetically predicted increase in each modifiable risk factor estimated with Mendelian randomisation analysis.
Results This study included analyses of 24 potentially modifiable risk factors. A Bonferroni corrected threshold of P=0.002 was considered to be significant, and P<0.05 was considered suggestive of evidence for a potential association. Genetically predicted educational attainment was significantly associated with Alzheimer’s. The odds ratios were 0.89 (95% confidence interval 0.84 to 0.93; P=2.4×10−6) per year of education completed and 0.74 (0.63 to 0.86; P=8.0×10−5) per unit increase in log odds of having completed college/university. The correlated trait intelligence had a suggestive association with Alzheimer’s (per genetically predicted 1 SD higher intelligence: 0.73, 0.57 to 0.93; P=0.01). There was suggestive evidence for potential associations between genetically predicted higher quantity of smoking (per 10 cigarettes a day: 0.69, 0.49 to 0.99; P=0.04) and 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations (per 20% higher levels: 0.92, 0.85 to 0.98; P=0.01) and lower odds of Alzheimer’s and between higher coffee consumption (per one cup a day: 1.26, 1.05 to 1.51; P=0.01) and higher odds of Alzheimer’s. Genetically predicted alcohol consumption, serum folate, serum vitamin B12, homocysteine, cardiometabolic factors, and C reactive protein were not associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Conclusion These results provide support that higher educational attainment is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Modifiable pathways in Alzheimer’s disease: Mendelian randomisation analysis” by Susanna C Larsson, Matthew Traylor, Rainer Malik, Martin Dichgans, Stephen Burgess, and Hugh S Markus in The BMJ. Published online December 7 2017 doi:10.1136/bmj.j5375
Recently, the Lancet sent me an article on its Dementia Commission:
“After decades of neglect, dementia was thrust into the international spotlight in 2013 with the G8 Dementia Summit in London, UK, followed 2 years later by the First WHO Ministerial Conference on Global Action Against Dementia. Against this background, The Lancet launched a Commission to review the available evidence and produce recommendations about how best to manage—or even prevent—dementia. “
Tell you what, Lancet, since your article emphasizes “leaving no one behind,” I would suggest that since this commission appears to not address the fact that the wholesale use of pesticides, Glyphosate in particular, is most likely one of the main causes of the disease, then your “leaving no one behind” statement really means to leave no one behind in actually getting the disease, not eradicating it.
Here is the interesting part of the article:
“Although the symptoms of dementia generally occur in later life, the underlying brain pathology develops many years earlier. As outlined in the Lancet Commission, dementia is likely to be a clinically silent disorder that begins at midlife (about age 40–65 years) and the terminal stage manifests as symptoms of dementia. This hypothesis suggests a window of opportunity to intervene by addressing dementia risk factors in middle age. The Commission adopts a life-course approach and identifies nine potentially modifiable risk factors at different stages of life that, if eliminated, might prevent more than a third of cases of dementia: low educational level in childhood, hearing loss, hypertension, obesity, smoking, depression, physical inactivity, social isolation, and diabetes.”
Seriously? Consumption of pesticides doesn’t even rate a mention? Dementia is not a socioeconomic or psychological condition, but a physical one, with a physical causation, and the commission does not even address this adequately in the article. What it appears to be doing is substituting a lot of symptoms for cause.
“Every three seconds someone is diagnosed with dementia, which now affects 5.3 million Americans and more than half a million Canadians. Alzheimer’s steals more than just memories. It hijacks one’s personality, thoughts and emotions—the very essence of who you are. Early-onset dementia (before age 65) currently represents about five percent of cases, and rising, hitting many in their 40s and 50s.”
Instances of dementia have risen dramatically since the introduction of Glyphosate in our food supply since 1994.
The correlation between Glyphosate usage and dementia cannot be disregarded, as it is only basic logic: If a person is exposed to a toxic chemical that causes dementia early in life and it takes several years for the symptoms of the disease to manifest, guess what? The more that chemical is used, the greater the instances of the disease will occur. You can cry correlation does not equal causation until the cows come home, but if the correlation is strong enough, guess what? It cannot be ignored and must be addressed based on the preponderance of evidence linking it to causation. To not do so and list symptoms as cause is like throwing darts at everything but the bull’s-eye on a target and claiming to hit it.
“We know dementia starts in the brain 30 to 50 years before symptoms appear. Science is just beginning to wrap its head around the various factors contributing to the amyloid plaques so characteristic of those with Alzheimer’s disease. Research confirms that many of the chemicals we’re exposed to in our food, water and air have direct links with Alzheimer’s.”
The link between the increased use of Glyphosate in our food and the rising tide of dementia cannot be simply dismissed. To do so is criminal.
If the Lancet is any indication, it appears that the medical community is intent on making sure that dementia will be “leaving no one behind” as it fails to address this damning correlation.
“Our citizens should know the urgent facts…but they don’t because our media serves imperial, not popular interests. They lie, deceive, connive and suppress what everyone needs to know, substituting managed news misinformation and rubbish for hard truths…”—Oliver Stone