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Is Alzheimer's Disease a Vitamin Deficiency?
A study done in Italy now poses that very question. It has been known for awhile now, that Alzheimer's disease patients have high levels of a compound called homocysteine in their blood. Homocysteine elevates in the blood when vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folic acid are deficient in the diet. These three B vitamins supply methyl groups for DNA and gene repair. It is also known that homocysteine is toxic and kill cells directly. High homocysteine in the blood is also linked to heart disease. To test the theory that Alzheimer's disease may be a vitamin B deficiency, the doctors created a B vitamin deficiency in the diet of a strain of mice that develop all the features of Alzheimer's disease, including beta amyloid plaques in brain and progressive memory loss. After the mice began to show build up of amyloid plaques and profound memory loss, doctors added s-adenosylmethionine to the mouse diet. S-adenosylmethionine also supplies methyl groups for DNA repair, like the critical B vitamins do. To the researchers' surprise, s-adenosylmethionine reduced beta amyloid plaques in the mouse brains and restored some of their memory loss. Alzheimer's disease may be partly reversible.
Source: A.Fuso, et.al., Neurobiology Aging, 2012, Jan.4 issue
Is Caregiving A Strain On The Heart?
A new study links the strain of caregiving for an alzheimer patient to heart disease. The doctors studied 118 elderly spousal Alzheimer caregivers. The doctors already knew that elevated levels of C reactive protein in the blood is a risk factor for heart disease. In the study, caregivers who had been caregivers the longest amount of time, had higher levels of C reactive protein, thus putting them at increased risk for heart disease. Also, tumor necrosis factor, a marker for increased inflammation throughout the body, was also elevated, so caregivers might also be prone to increased inflammation of all kinds. The most interesting finding was that 3 months after the death of the AD spouse, levels of C reactive protein declined dramatically. Caregiving stress , quite literally, puts a strain on the heart of the carer.
Source: von Kanel, R., et.al.,Effect of alzheimer caregiving on circulating levels of C-reactive protein and other biomarkers relevant to cardiovascular disease risk: a longitudinal study. Gerontology, Nov. 29,2011.
What Does Alzheimer's Disease Cost Us Yearly?
Richard Stefanacci,DO, wrote a wondeful review recently and he outlined what Alzheimer's disease costs our society as a whole. For example, every 69 seconds,a person in the United States develops Alzheimer's disease. It is estimated that by 2050, the number of alzheimer's cases will double. At the time of this writing, the direct costs of Alzheimer's disease are $183 billion... this amount is expected to increase to $1.1 trillion by 2050. Most alzheimer caegivers are women, usually spouses or daughters. More women than men get Alzheimer's disease. Some caregivers spend as much as 70 hours a week being a caregiver. The strains on caregiver mental and physical health are great. Caring for an alzheimer loved one at home ultimately saves society money. For example, delaying nursing home placement saves direct costs of more than $2029 monthly per patient.
Source: Stefanacci,.G., American Journal of Managed Care,2011, Suppl, 14: S356-62.
Spices For Alzheimer's Diseases?
Is it possible that spices may one day be used to fight Alzheimer's disease? An interestng study now suggests that possibility. The yellow powder turmeric is used to flavor many foods. The active compound in turmeric is called curcumin. Science has long known that curcumin and many other spices are rich in health-promoting antioxidants. In China, researchers have found that curcumin may help Alzheimer's disease. The researchers in China spliced a gene into a neuroblastoma cell, so that the cultured cell would then be able to manufacture beta amyloid protein. Beta amyloid build up in the brain is believed to cause alzheimer's disease. Curcumin, at varied dosages, was given to the neuroblastoma cells. Without the curcumin added, the cells produced a great deal of toxic beta amyloid protein. However, once curcumin was added, beta amyloid production was markedly reduced. Curcumin has no toxic effects and is available as a health food supplement or spice.
Source: Zhong,Z.,et.al., Pharmacol Rep.,2011, 63: 1101-1108.