Alzheimer's: Why Aren't We Stopping It?
by Barbara Morris, R.Ph.
supplement was Resveratrol, an antioxidant found in red wine. There are more
promising substances the Association could have funded – but it's commendable the
Association chose to investigate something potentially useful.
From the grant description: "The researchers will recruit participants through clinics of
the Mount Sinai Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. Patients with mild to moderate
Alzheimer's disease will be randomly assigned to receive either a nutritional
supplement or a placebo. . . " (This is at odds with the grant title, "Randomized Trial of
a Nutritional Supplement to Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer's Disease." What will it be --
research to reduce risk of AD or treatment for those already afflicted?)
I can predict that the results will not be promising. For one thing, the grant description
makes clear the study does not focus on prevention. If it did, the outcome might be
encouraging. For another thing, studies testing the efficacy of nutritional supplements
typically use less than adequate doses. (There is no indication of the potency of the
supplement.) A low dose of any antioxidant doesn't have a chance of stopping AD
once it has started.
While AD (mild or full blown) is not reversible, mild cognitive decline is another story.
(Mild cognitive decline is characterized as "where did I leave my keys" type of
memory lapse). Several physicians have told me they believe AD is preventable if
intervention begins extremely early – at the onset of mild cognitive decline or before.
And then, only if a program of aggressive and adequate amounts of antioxidants and
other dietary supplements are given along with an optimum diet rich in antioxidants.
Prevailing thought says that accumulation of "plaques and tangles" in the brain may be
a cause of AD. A scientist at a major university, who believes the "plaques and
tangles" theory is flawed, spoke up at a meeting of his peers and was promptly
hooted down for his unorthodox thinking. And what might that thinking be? He
believes that finding a remedy for "oxidative stress" (free radical activity) – that
results in the formation of "plaques and tangles"-- merits more aggressive research.
One must wonder: Why isn't more grant money awarded to the plethora of small
nutritional studies conducted at universities all over the world that show incredible
promise for prevention of AD?
This is not to disparage attempts to find a cure. Certainly, anything that could reverse
this dread disease would be welcome. But surely, wouldn't it be preferable to find a
way to prevent it? Shouldn't there be equal research emphasis on prevention as well
as a cure?
Meet Dr. Bruce Ames: Is he on to something?
A Press Release, UC Berkeley, February 19, 2002 headline: "Dietary Supplements
make old rats youthful, may help rejuvenate aging humans, according to UC Berkely
It went on to explain that "A team of researchers led by Bruce N. Ames, professor of
molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley, fed older rats two chemicals normally found
in the body's cells and available as dietary supplements: acetyl-L-carnitine and an
antioxidant, alpha-lipoic acid."
"With the two supplements together, these old rats got up and did the Macarena,"
said Ames, also a researcher at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute
(CHORI). "The brain looks better, they are full of energy - everything we looked at
looks more like a young animal."
"Based on the group's earlier studies, the University of California patented use of the
combination of the two supplements to rejuvenate cells. Ames, through the Bruce and
Giovanna Ames Foundation . . . founded a company in 1999 called Juvenon to license
the patent from the university. Juvenon currently is engaged in human clinical trials of
The work was supported by grants from the Ellison Foundation, the National Institute
on Aging of the National Institutes of Health, the Wheeler Fund of the Dean of Biology
at UC Berkeley, the Bruce and Giovanna Ames Foundation and the National Institute
of Environmental Health Sciences Center at UC Berkeley.
What's missing in the above paragraph? There is no mention of drug company
funding. Thankfully, the government funds some prevention oriented research, but it's
piddling compared to the amount of money donated by drug companies for traditional
research geared to finding a cure. And that makes sense. Drug companies are profit
oriented. There is no profit in prevention with dietary supplements purchased without
The good news is that you don't have to wait for AD to strike. Beef up your
antioxidant intake and learn how to improve your diet for maximum prevention
benefit. Starting as early in life as possible increases chances of staying mentally sharp
in mature years.
About The Author
Barbara Morris, R.Ph is a pharmacist and youth preservation strategist. She is author
of Put Old on Hold. Sign up for her newsletter at and
receive free ebook, "Diva Tested Tips for Fabulous Skin". A list of nutrition oriented
Alzheimer’s research is available at .
In 2005 the Alzheimer's
Association (AA) awarded 92
grants totaling $17.8 million,
pushing the Association's funding
for Alzheimer's Disease (AD)
research since 1982 to over
Of the 92 grants, just one went
to the study of a nutritional
supplement. The grant title:
"Randomized Trial of a Nutritional
Supplement to Reduce the Risk
of Alzheimer's Disease." The
award was for $240,000 over
three years. The nutritional
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