"We conclude that there is a lack of efficacy in mild Alzheimer's," says the study's lead researcher, Lon Schneider, M.D., a professor of psychiatry, neurology, and gerontology at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles. "We think physicians, patients, and caregivers should simply know this."
(Even so), nearly one-fifth of all people with mild Alzheimer's received the drug in 2006, and the rates may be far higher in some hospitals and practices, according to the study, which appears in the journal Archives of Neurology.Many neurologists -- 40 percent, by one estimate -- even prescribe the drug for mild cognitive impairment, a condition that may or may not progress to full-blown dementia."
In the United States, someone develops Alzheimer's disease every 69 seconds, and by 2050 this is expected to increase to a new case every 33 seconds, according to the Alzheimer's Association's 2011 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures.
The disease is currently at epidemic proportions, with 5.4 million Americans -- including one in eight people aged 65 and over -- living with Alzheimer's disease. By 2050, this is expected to jump to 16 million, and in the next 20 years it is projected that Alzheimer's will affect one in four Americans. If that turns out to be true, it would then be more prevalent than obesity and diabetes is today!
Alzheimer's is a devastating disease that develops slowly and gets worse over time.
The first stages involve mild memory loss, but as the disease progresses it can make you unable to carry on a conversation or respond to your external environment. On average, 40 percent of the time a person spends with Alzheimer's disease is spent in the most severe advanced stages of the disease, making it truly devastating.
Worse yet, there is no known cure and very few treatments, and as this latest study shows, existing treatments are often of little to no benefit whatsoever.
More Evidence Alzheimer's Drugs Don't Work
Memantine, brand name Namenda, is a widely used Alzheimer's drug that is approved for moderate to severe cases. Despite this, doctors often prescribe it off-label for mild Alzheimer's cases and even for mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which is frequently the prelude to Alzheimer's.
However, a new reanalysis of data from three clinical trials showed that patients with mild Alzheimer's who took Namenda had no improvement in mental function or their ability to perform everyday tasks compared to placebo. Even among moderate to severe Alzheimer's patients, for which the drug is approved to treat, the researchers found only "meager" improvements.
The researchers concluded:
"Despite its frequent off-label use, evidence is lacking for a benefit of memantine in mild AD [Alzheimer's disease], and there is meager evidence for its efficacy in moderate AD."
Namenda paired with a cholinesterase inhibitor, a type of drug that may help prevent the breakdown of certain memory-influencing neurotransmitters, is the go-to treatment for Alzheimer's, but the new study shows it likely offers little to no benefit to patients.
Along with dizziness and headache, confusion is listed as one of the most common side effects of Namenda, and this is certainly the last thing a person with Alzheimer's needs.
Furthermore, cholinesterase inhibitor drugs such as Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl may do more harm than good. This class of drugs is known to provoke slower heart rates, significantly increasing your chances of getting a permanent pacemaker, as well as increasing your risk of hip fracture.
Because of the very limited treatments, and no available cure as of yet, that leaves you with just one solid solution, and that is to prevent it from happening to you in the first place.
What Causes Alzheimer's Disease?
In order to effectively prevent a disease, you must address its underlying causative factors. Although we do not have definitive "proof" of what, specifically, causes Alzheimer's, a number of factors have been linked to an increased risk of dementia, and we know enough about those to in turn make educated recommendations for preventing this type of brain deterioration.
If you read the lead article for today, you will know I have become hyper passionate about warning about the dangers of fructose. There is NO question in my mind that regularly consuming fructose over 25 grams per day will increase your risk of losing your mind.
Of course there are other risk factors but it is REALLY important that you understand the concept of synergy. When you combine these risk factors you dramatically increase the overall risk. It is like one plus one equals five or even fifty.
Fructose will catalyze the impact of virtually every other risk factor, like exposure to toxins such as aluminum, or mercury or even genetic predispositions. It does this by impairing your body's normal self-regulating repair capacity and its ability to recover from these types of assaults.
Following are a number of other risk factors associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease. Please notice that the first four are absolutely related to fructose intake. For further information about each of them, please follow the links provided:
- Obesity, especially increased belly fat
- Insulin resistance and diabetes – Diabetics have up to 65 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease
- Elevated uric acid levels
- High blood pressure
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Intracellular T3 (immune system cells) deficiency
- Heart disease
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Elevated homocysteine levels due to vitamin B6, B12 and folate deficiencies
- Insufficient omega-3 fats
- Vitamin E deficiency
- Aluminum toxicity
- Mercury toxicity
- Copper toxicity
- Electromagnetic fields and cell phone radiation -- Henry Lai and Narendra Singh's research on the effects of cell phone radiation on rats' brains found DNA breaks associated with cancer and Alzheimer's.
Clearly, the BEST way to "treat" Alzheimer's is to lead a lifestyle that will prevent it in the first place, and this type of lifestyle is one that will avoid the health conditions, nutritional deficiencies and environmental toxins noted above. I can confidently assure you that this is possible, as dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, is NOT a normal part of aging.
12 Solid Strategies for Alzheimer's Prevention
Some believe that we need to wait for the ultimate placebo-controlled randomized trial to "prove" an approach before recommending it. I believe that is an absolutely foolhardy approach when we are in the midst of an emergency.
People are losing their minds at an alarming and increasing rate, and we need to act now. So it makes sense to use natural approaches, which are essentially without any side effects and are very inexpensive. Some of the best strategies for Alzheimer's prevention include:
- Fructose. You simply MUST keep your level below 25 grams per day. This toxic influence is serving as the master regulator of brain toxicity. Since the average person is exceeding this recommendation by 300% this is a pervasive and serious issue. As I said above, I view it as the MOST important step you can take.
- Keep your fasting insulin levels below 3. This is indirectly related to fructose, as it will clearly lead to insulin resistance. However other sugars, grains and lack of exercise are also factors here.
- Vitamin B12: According to a small Finnish study recently published in the journal Neurology, people who consume foods rich in B12 may reduce their risk of Alzheimer's in their later years. For each unit increase in the marker of vitamin B12 (holotranscobalamin) the risk of developing Alzheimer's was reduced by 2 percent.
Very high doses of B vitamins have also been found to treat Alzheimer's disease and reduce memory loss.
- Vitamin D: In 2007 researchers at the University of Wisconsin uncovered strong links between low levels of vitamin D in Alzheimer's patients and poor outcomes on cognitive tests. Scientists launched the study after family members of Alzheimer's patients who were treated with large doses of prescription vitamin D reported that they were acting and performing better than before.
Researchers believe that optimal vitamin D levels may enhance the amount of important chemicals in your brain and protect brain cells.
Vitamin D receptors have been identified throughout the human body, and that includes in your brain. Metabolic pathways for vitamin D exist in the hippocampus and cerebellum of the brain, areas that are involved in planning, processing of information, and the formation of new memories.
Sufficient vitamin D is also imperative for proper functioning of your immune system to combat inflammation, and other research has discovered that people with Alzheimer's tend to have higher levels of inflammation in their brains.
- Eat a nutritious diet, rich in folate. Ideally you'll want to design your diet around your nutritional type. Everyone, however, regardless of nutritional type will want to avoid fructose as much as possible.
Strict vegetarian diets have been shown to increase your Alzheimer's risk, whereas diets high in omega-3's lower your risk. However, vegetables, without question, are your best form of folate, and we should all eat plenty of fresh raw veggies every day.
- High-quality animal based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil. (I recommend avoiding most fish because although fish is naturally high in omega-3, most fish stocks are now severely contaminated with mercury.)
High intake of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA helps by preventing cell damage caused by Alzheimer's disease, thereby slowing down its progression, and lowering your risk of developing the disorder. Researchers have also said DHA "dramatically reduces the impact of the Alzheimer's gene."
- Avoid and remove mercury from your body. Dental amalgam fillings are one of the major sources of mercury, however you should be healthy prior to having them removed.
- Avoid aluminum, such as antiperspirants, non-stick cookware, etc.
- Exercise regularly. According to one study, the odds of developing Alzheimer's were nearly quadrupled in people who were less active during their leisure time, between the ages of 20 and 60. I would strongly recommend reviewing the Peak Fitness Technique for my specific recommendations.
- Avoid flu vaccinations as most contain both mercury and aluminum!
- Eat plenty of blueberries. Wild blueberries, which have high anthocyanin and antioxidant content, are known to guard against Alzheimer's and other neurological diseases.
- Challenge your mind daily. Mental stimulation, especially learning something new, such as learning to play an instrument or a new language, is associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer's. Researchers suspect that mental challenge helps to build up your brain, making it less susceptible to the lesions associated with Alzheimer's disease.
- Avoid anticholinergic drugs. Drugs that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, have been shown to increase your risk of dementia. These drugs include certain night-time pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, certain antidepressants, medications to control incontinence, and certain narcotic pain relievers.
A recent study found that those who took drugs classified as 'definite anticholinergics' had a four times higher incidence of cognitive impairment. Regularly taking two of these drugs further increased the risk of cognitive impairment.
Prevention is the Best Strategy, but There are Two Natural Treatments
I want to emphasize again that your best option for keeping your brain health intact as you age is to lead a healthy lifestyle. But in the event you or a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, you should know that coconut oil may offer some benefit with no risk of side effects.
According to Dr. Mary Newport, D.M, whose husband was stricken with Alzheimer's disease, coconut oil may be KEY for not only preventing but even reversing this disease. Certain cells in the brains of those with Alzheimer's become increasingly unable to use their primary energy source, glucose. Without fuel, these brain cells die, contributing to the mental degeneration. But there's an alternative source of energy, known as ketones.
Your body produces ketones naturally when you deprive it of carbohydrates, and you can boost ketone production by consuming medium-chain triglycerides, such as coconut oil.
Dr. Newport made this connection when she discovered that the ingredient in a promising Alzheimer drug was nothing more than simple coconut oil-derived medium-chain triglycerides! Beneficial results were obtained at a dose of about 20 ml (4 teaspoons).
Interestingly, studies have also demonstrated that ginko biloba is effective in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. One study published in 2006 found that the herb works just as well as Aricept (donepezil) in treating mild or moderate Alzheimer's-related dementia. It's important to realize that ginko biloba will not cure the underlying problem, however it is certainly safer to use compared to conventional drugs.