Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias - Part 1

   By: Dr. Jean Antoine Boodhoo

   2011-09-08 03:53 PM

The world is ageing.  With an increasing number of seniors will come a rising tide of people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.  When Dr. Aloysius Alzheimer described the first person with this disorder, little did he know how his diagnosis was going to affect the world a century later. 

According to the World Alzheimer’s Report 2010, worldwide there were 35 million people with Alzheimer’s disease (and related dementia).  The total number of people suffering from this disease is postulated to double every 20 years reaching 115.4 million by 2050. 

  • In the USA, the figure is postulated to rise to 13.2 million, while the number of seniors age 85 years old and over will figure 8 million (1)
  • In Canada 480 000 Canadians had a form of dementia in 2010, rising to 1 125 200 by 2038 (2). 
  • Germany is postulated to have 1.212 million. (3)
  • United Kingdom .89 million.
  • France .88 million.
  • India 15.6 million.
  • China 19.1 million.
  • Pakistan 2.3 million.
  • Russia 2.1 million.
  • Turkey 1.01 million.
  • Mexico 1.54 million.
  • Ethiopia 1.05 million.
  • Namibia 9 000.
  • Tunisia 26 000
  • Switzerland 107 325
  • South Africa 250 000

On average people live some 11.3 years from the age of onset of Alzheimer’s disease and 5.7 years from the time of diagnosis.  Some seniors may, however, live as long as 20 years from the time of onset of the disease.

Several risk factors (including age, gender, genetics, cardiovascular, metabolic and nutritional) have been associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.  While Alzheimer’s disease can develop early on in life (as early as 30 years of age) nevertheless Alzheimer’s disease is more common later on in life.  Indeed, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years after age 65, and may reach 50 percent of seniors aged 85 years of age and up. (4) It is also noted that Alzheimer’s disease is more common in women than men.

Several gene abnormalities have been associated with Alzheimer’s disease, namely: 

Chromosome 1 – Presenilin 2 gene

Chromosome 14 – Presenilin 1 gene

Chromosome 21 – Amyloid Precursor Protein gene

These are associated with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Other mutations associated with later onset Alzheimer’s disease include:

Chromosome 1 – Complement receptor 1

Chromosome 8 – Clusterin gene (5)

Chromosome 19 – Apo E4 gene

Chromosome 11 – PICALM gene (5)

Other risk factors include the presence of cardiovascular problems, lipid abnormalities, namely; low HDL cholesterol, high LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol level.  There is also some indication that people with untreated high blood pressure in midlife had an increased risk of dementia.

Several metallic substances, including; aluminum, mercury, lead, copper, magnesium and zinc have been associated with cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.  New research (6)(7) is highlighting the significance that various metallic ions play in the development of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.  In his book, “The Seven Pillars of Health”, Dr. Don Colbert highlights the number of chemicals in our drinking water, emphasizing the importance of drinking an adequate amount of water daily, as water is important in preventing memory loss.  Dr. Colbert recommends the use of alkalinized water.  

In his book, “Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease”, Drs. Shankle and Amen stated that if we can take steps to delay the development of Alzheimer’s disease by just a few years we may be able to live our projected lifespan free of the consequences of this devastating disease. 

While we may not be able to alter the genes we inherit from our parents, we may be able to influence the environmental factors that may impact on our genes.  In the next few articles I will be focusing on steps that we can take to delay the development of Alzheimer’s disease, if not prevent us from developing Alzheimer’s disease.

(1) LE Herbert, PA Scherr, L Bienias, DA Bennett, DA Evans
      Alzheimer’s Disease in the US Population – Prevalence Estimates Using the 2000 Census
    Arch Neurol. 2003;60:1119-1122
(2)   Rising Tide:  The Impact of Dementia on Canadian Society 2010
      Alzheimer’s Society of Canada
(5)   J Williams, et al
      Genome-wide association study identifies variants at CLU and PICALM associated with 
Alzheimer's disease, and shows evidence for additional susceptibility genes
Nature Genetics 41, 1088 - 1093 (2009)
(6) Anthony R White, Peter Faller, Craig S Atwood and Paolo Zatta
Metals and Alzheimer’s Disease
(7)   How Mercury Causes Brain Neuron Degeneration (video)      

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