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15 June 2017

Alzheimer’s Deaths Exceed Half a Million a Year in the US

According to the article, several of the most prominent or likely culprits that can raise risk of Alzheimer’s disease are insulin resistance, vitamin D deficiency, lack of sun exposure, prion infection, environmental toxins, non-native or artificial electromagnetic fields (EMF), inactivity/lack of exercise, hypertension and heart disease, and genetic predisposition.

Alzheimer’s Deaths Exceed Half a Million a Year in the US
by Dr. Mercola, 15 June 2017

This article is accompanied by two videos about young
persons with Alzheimer's.  At age 31, Rebecca is one of he
youngest person ever to have a genetic form of Alzheimer's.
Story at-a-glance
  • Between 1999 and 2014, the death rate from Alzheimer’s increased by 55 percent, killing more than 93,500 Americans in 2014, according to a review of death certificates
  • Research published in 2014 found Alzheimer’s deaths were severely underreported on death certificates. Researchers estimate the annual death toll from Alzheimer’s actually exceeds half a million
  • Many lifestyle and environmental factors contribute to the rise in Alzheimer’s, including inappropriate diet, inactivity, insulin resistance, prion infection, lack of sun exposure and overexposure to toxic chemicals and non-native electromagnetic fields

Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most serious form of dementia, eventually leads to the inability to carry out even the most basic of bodily functions, such as swallowing or walking. It is ultimately fatal, as conventional treatment options are few and universally ineffective.

Like autism among children, Alzheimer’s among seniors has reached epidemic proportions, with no slowdown in sight. On the contrary, evidence suggests the trend is worsening. At present, Alzheimer’s affects an estimated 5.4 million Americans.1

Projections suggest the disease will affect 1 in 4 Americans within the next two decades, and by 2050, Alzheimer’s diagnoses are projected to triple.2,3 Shocking statistics published in the journal Neurology in 2014 revealed Alzheimer’s killed more than 503,000 American seniors in 2010, making it the third leading cause of death, right behind heart disease and cancer.4

Now, data published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report reveals that between 1999 and 2014, the death rate from Alzheimer’s increased by 55 percent,5,6,7,8 — a rather radical increase in a mere 15 years.

The CDC report also noted the number of people dying from the disease at home, opposed to in a care facility, has increased from 14 to 25 percent. This means many Alzheimer’s caretakers are unpaid family members and friends — a task known to be taxing from both an emotional and financial perspective. While these statistics sound dire enough, the reality may be even worse than that.

Alzheimer’s Deaths Are Likely Severely Underreported

The CDC report used data collected from U.S. death certificates. However, the 2014 Neurology study revealed Alzheimer’s deaths are grossly underreported on death certificates. In 2010, death certificates showed there were less than 84,000 deaths from Alzheimer’s. Meanwhile, by ascertaining the cause of death based on evaluation of donated organs from the diseased, the actual death toll attributable to dementia came out to 503,400.

If such a trend of underreporting Alzheimer’s disease as a cause of death holds true, the increase in Alzheimer’s deaths over the past 15 years may in fact be far greater than 55 percent.

Indeed, the CDC claims Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death, while the results from the 2014 study ranked it third. According to the CDC, Alzheimer’s killed 93,541 Americans in 2014 — a far cry from the estimated annual death toll of 503,400, reported in the Neurology study. Whatever the case may be, what’s clear is that severe, lethal dementia is rapidly rising, and the medical establishment is no closer to solving the riddle of causation than they were 30 years ago.

What’s Causing Alzheimer’s Disease?

It’s often said that the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s disease are unknown, but there’s no shortage of theories. Based on the available science, here are several of the most prominent or likely culprits that can raise your risk of Alzheimer’s disease:

Insulin resistance

Mounting research suggests Alzheimer’s disease is intricately connected to insulin resistance; even mild elevation of blood sugar is associated with an elevated risk for dementia.9 Diabetes and heart disease10 are also known to elevate your risk, and both are rooted in insulin resistance. Neurologist David Perlmutter warns anything that promotes insulin resistance, like a processed food diet, will also raise your risk of Alzheimer’s.

Recent research has strengthened the link between insulin resistance and dementia even further, particularly among those with existing heart disease.11,12,13 Studies have also confirmed that the greater an individual’s insulin resistance, the less sugar they have in key parts of their brain, and these areas typically correspond to the areas affected by Alzheimer’s.14,15

Vitamin D deficiency

The Scotland Dementia Research Centre also noted there’s a very clear link between vitamin D deficiency and dementia.16 Indeed, studies have shown vitamin D plays a critical role in brain health, immune function, gene expression and inflammation — all of which influence Alzheimer’s. A wide variety of brain tissue contains vitamin D receptors, and when they’re activated by vitamin D, it facilitates nerve growth in your brain.

Researchers also believe optimal vitamin D levels boost levels of important brain chemicals, and protect brain cells by increasing the effectiveness of glial cells in nursing damaged neurons back to health. Considering an estimated 95 percent of seniors are at risk of vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency, vitamin D may be a very important factor for successful prevention among the general population.

Research also shows people living in northern latitudes have higher rates of death from Alzheimer’s than those living in sunnier areas,17 suggesting a link between sun exposure, vitamin D and brain health. In a 2014 study,18 considered to be the most robust study of its kind at the time, those who were severely deficient in vitamin D had a 125 percent higher risk of developing some form of dementia compared to those with normal levels.

The findings also suggest there’s a threshold level of circulating vitamin D, below which your risk for dementia increases. This threshold was found to be right around 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) or 50 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) for Europeans.

Higher levels are associated with better brain health in general, and based on a broader view of the available science, 20 ng/ml is still far too low. The bulk of the research suggests a healthy range is between 40 to 60 ng/ml.

Lack of sun exposure

While vitamin D deficiency is directly attributable to lack of sensible sun exposure, vitamin D production is not the only way sun exposure can influence your dementia risk. Evidence suggests sunlight is a beneficial electromagnetic frequency (EMF) that is in fact essential and vital for your health in its own right.

About 40 percent of the rays in sunlight is infrared. The red and near-infrared frequencies interact with cytochrome c oxidase (CCO) — one of the proteins in the inner mitochondrial membrane and a member of the electron transport chain.

CCO is a chromophore, a molecule that attracts and absorbs light. In short, sunlight improves the generation of energy (ATP). The optimal wavelength for stimulating CCO lies in two regions, red at 630 to 660 nanometers (nm) and near-infrared at 810 to 850 nm.

I’ve recently interviewed two different experts on photobiomodulation, a term describing the use of near-infrared light as a treatment for Alzheimer’s. To learn more about this fascinating field, please see my interviews with Michael Hamblin, Ph.D., and Dr. Lew Lim. Both have published papers on using photobiomodulation to improve Alzheimer’s disease.

Photobiomodulation also improves oxygenation to your cells by releasing nitric oxide, and is a vasodilator that helps relax your blood vessels, lower your blood pressure and improve vascular health. Additionally, delivering red (660 nm) and near infrared light (830 nm) to the mitochondria promotes synthesizing of gene transcription factors that trigger cellular repair, and this is as true in the brain as anywhere else in your body.

Prion infection

In addition to viruses, bacteria and fungi, an infectious protein called TDP-43, which behaves like infectious proteins known as prions — responsible for the brain destruction that occurs in Mad Cow and Chronic Wasting Diseases — has been linked to Alzheimer’s.

Research presented at the 2014 Alzheimer's Association International Conference revealed Alzheimer's patients with TDP-43 were 10 times more likely to have been cognitively impaired at death than those without.19 Due to its similarities with mad cow disease, investigators have raised the possibility that Alzheimer’s disease may be linked to eating meat from animals raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

Environmental Toxins

Experts at the Edinburgh University's Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre have compiled a list of top environmental risk factors thought to be contributing to the epidemic, based on a systematic review of the scientific literature.20,21,22,23 As much as one-third of your dementia risk is thought to be linked to environmental factors such as air pollution, pesticide exposure and living close to power lines.

The risk factor with the most robust body of research behind it is air pollution. In fact, they couldn’t find a single study that didn’t show a link between exposure to air pollution and dementia. Particulate matter, nitric oxides, ozone and carbon monoxide have all been linked to an increased risk. Living close to power lines also has “limited yet robust” evidence suggesting it may influence your susceptibility to dementia.

Non-native or artificial electromagnetic fields (EMF)

Non-native EMFs contribute to Alzheimer’s by poisoning your mitochondria, and this is not limited to living in close proximity to power lines. It also includes electromagnetic interference from the electric grid and microwave radiation from your cellphone, cellphone towers and Wi-Fi.

This is a very deep and important topic that I plan to greatly expand on later this year. Based on what I’ve found so far, I’m convinced enough now to never put my cellphone on my body unless it is in airplane mode, and will not hold my cellphone unless it is on a selfie stick.

Inactivity / lack of exercise

Exercise has been shown to protect your brain from Alzheimer's and other dementias, and also improves quality of life if you’ve already been diagnosed.24 In one study,25 patients diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s who participated in a four-month-long supervised exercise program had significantly fewer neuropsychiatric symptoms associated with the disease (especially mental speed and attention) than the inactive control group.

Other studies26 have shown aerobic exercise helps reduce tau levels in the brain. (Brain lesions known as tau tangles form when the protein tau collapses into twisted strands that end up killing your brain cells.) Cognitive function and memory27 can also be improved through regular exercise, and this effect is in part related to the effect exercise has on neurogenesis and the regrowth of brain cells.

By targeting a gene pathway called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), exercise actually promotes brain cell growth and connectivity. In one yearlong study, seniors who exercised grew and expanded their brain’s memory center by as much as 2 percent per year, where typically that center shrinks with age.

Evidence also suggests exercise can trigger a change in the way the amyloid precursor protein is metabolized,28 thus slowing the onset and progression of Alzheimer's. By increasing levels of the protein PGC-1alpha (which Alzheimer’s patients have less of), brain cells produce less of the toxic amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer's.29

Hypertension and heart disease

Arterial stiffness (atherosclerosis) is associated with a hallmark process of Alzheimer’s, namely the buildup of beta-amyloid plaque in your brain. The American Heart Association (AHA) warns there’s a strong association between hypertension and brain diseases such as vascular cognitive impairment (loss of brain function caused by impaired blood flow to your brain) and dementia.30

Moreover, in one clinical trial,31 test subjects who consumed high fructose corn syrup developed higher risk factors for cardiovascular disease in two weeks, demonstrating just how influential your diet can be on your heart and brain health in the long term.

Genetic predisposition

Several genes that predispose you to Alzheimer’s have also been identified.32 The most common gene associated with late onset Alzheimer’s is the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene. The APOE e2 form is thought to reduce your risk while the APOE e4 form increases it.

That said, some people never develop the disease even though they’ve inherited the APOE e4 gene from both their mother and father (giving them a double set), so while genetics can affect your risk, it is NOT a direct or inevitable cause.

Your risk for early onset familial Alzheimer’s can also be ascertained through genetic testing.33 In this case, by looking for mutation in the genes for presenilin 1 and presenilin 2. People with one or more genetic predispositions are at particularly high risk of developing Alzheimer’s at a very young age. At just 31 years of age, Rebecca Doig is thought to be one of the youngest Alzheimer’s cases presently known.

Continue reading:
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/06/15/us-alzheimers-disease-deaths-increase.aspx

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