A Most Disturbing Statistic: Women and Alzheimer’s

Published January 27, 2012 by SHELLIE FRADDIN

January 26, 2012

ScienceDaily (Mar. 18, 2008) ā€” “Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have estimated that one in six women are at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in their lifetime, while the risk for men is one in ten. These findings were released March 18 by the Alzheimer’s Association in their publication 2008 Alzheimer’s Disease: Facts and Figures.”

In the past year, I have been introduced to groups of women with Alzheimer’s disease, living in assisted living facilities. Some with bracelets on their ankles to track their location, some with companions and some who can still live somewhat independently. The Activities Directors of several facilities invited me to lead Chair Zumba Fitness Classes in Memory Care Centers around Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Norfolk, VA.

I have read about the disease. I know of families who have experienced the disease of a loved one. I have never personally met anyone with the disease, since my Health & Wellness practice focused on ‘disease prevention’, educating women to strengthen body, mind and spirit. I teach classes, write articles and present lectures to people to improve brain function, to increase energy, to improve skin, nails and hair, to understand nutrition labels, to cook healthy meals, to maintain healthy joints and muscles with Zumba Fitness classes.

I’m disturbed about the incidence of Alzheimer’s in women. I am determined to do something about it, to educate women in preventing the disease from developing, to research the cause, the development and the progression. Living with Alzheimer’s is not the way I see women living out the rest of their lives. I have the vision that women can make a difference throughout their lives, no matter their age; that women can have a meaningful quality of life, way into their 90’s. Women like Grandma Moses, Kathryn Hepburn, Gloria Swanson, did. What can we do to prevent the disease of Alzheimer’s?

RESEARCH QUESTION: Are there any natural treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease and is there a way to prevent its development?

Nutrition Week, May 2, 1997;27(17):7/New York Times, April 24, 1997;A22.

“Alzheimer’s disease patients were given 2000 IU of vitamin E daily, which is 60 times the RDA, resulting in a significant delay in the progression to 1 of 4 major milestone symptoms: inability to perform basic daily activities, admission to a nursing home, progression to severe dementia or death. Patients taking vitamin E did not experience these events for another 230 days compared to placebo patients.

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“Alzheimer’s is a woman’s disease that’s dramatically changing the way we live as families,” Maria Shriver said. “Sixty percent of people with Alzheimer’s are women, and 60 percent of the caretaking is done by women.”

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Ascorbic Acid in Cerebrospinal Fluid- A Possible Protection Against Free Radicals in the Brain

Barabas, Judit, et al, Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 1995;21:43-48.

Ascorbic acid and dehydroascorbate levels in the plasma and CSF of 12 patients with senile dementia of moderate grade Alzheimer’s type were found to be significantly lower than 15 young, healthy volunteers. An intravenous infusion of 2 gm of ascorbic acid in 5 of these patients showed an active transport process for vitamin C from the plasma through the blood-CSF barrier. The study confirmed the free radical scavenging function of ascorbic acid in the central nervous system. Monitoring ascorbic acid levels in the plasma of demented patients is recommended because of its protective role in the free radical process that occurs in dementia. The amyloid precursor proteins aggregate only in the presence of free radicals.

Vitamin C may reduce the harmful effects of free radicals in the brain.

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Plasma Concentrations of Vitamins A and E and Carotenoids in Alzheimer’s Disease”

Zaman, Z., et al, Age and Ageing, 1992;21:91-94.”

This study of Alzheimer’s and multi-infarct dementia patients, compared to nondemented elderly controls, found that in the 20 Alzheimer’s and multi-infarct dementia patients there were significantly lower levels of vitamin E and beta-carotene than controls. Vitamin A was significantly reduced only in Alzheimer’s disease patients. Vitamins A and E and the carotenoids act as free radical scavengers and their deficiency may increase the degenerative neurologic process in the brain and thereby exacerbate dementia.

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ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE – THIAMIN, VITAMIN B1

“Thiamine and Alzheimer’s Disease: A Pilot Study”

Blass JP, Gleason P, Brush D, et al, Arch Neurol, August, 1988;45:833-835.

Seven females and 4 males who were between 59 and 83 years of age with Alzheimer’s disease participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study evaluating the effects of 3 g/day of oral thiamin hydrochloride for 3 months compared with a placebo, 3 times daily. Results showed that the Mini-Mental State Examination was higher during the 3 months with 3 g/day of oral thiamin hydrochloride than with the placebo. These patients were not thiamin deficient in the conventional sense, malnourished or alcoholics.

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ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AND INOSITOL

“Inositol Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease: A Double-Blind, Cross-Over Placebo Controlled Trial”

Barak, Yoram, et al, Prog. Neuro-Psychopharmacol. and Biological Psychiatry, 1996;20:729-735.

In a double-blind crossover study, inositol at 6 grams per day versus glucose for 1 month each was carried out in 11 Alzheimer’s disease patients. There was an overall improvement in the Cognitive Subscale of the Cambridge Mental Disorder of the Elderly Examination (CAMDEX) with inositol but it was not significant. Language and orientation improved significantly more with inositol than the placebo. There were no serious side effects. The authors feel that higher doses of inositol should be studied in Alzheimer’s disease patients for longer periods of time.

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More to follow.

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