Britain faces Alzheimer's catastrophe - and it's preventable

  • 22 Mar 2011
  • Reading time 4 mins
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If I told you that there is a proven way to prevent age-related memory decline, stop your brain shrinking and prevent Alzheimer’s would you be interested? If so, read on.

Prevention is badly needed because figures released by Alzheimer’s Research UK show that a million people in Britain will suffer some form of dementia within the next two decades, and one in three pensioners will die with it. Currently as many as two-thirds of people who develop dementia are never diagnosed, while the best current treatments can only help reduce symptoms and cannot prevent the degenerative disease progressing. Dementia costs the economy £23 billion a year and the Alzheimer’s charities are screaming for more funding for research.

Even though Alzheimer’s costs much more than cancer, twelve times as much is spent each year on cancer research. But the real mystery is not what causes Alzheimer’s but why the mainstream medicine has a blind spot to the solutions that already exist. There is now a substantial amount of research that shows that the toxic protein homocysteine, easily measurable in blood plasma, not only causes the kind of damage that is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s, but that one’s homocysteine level is an excellent predictor of risk. As homocysteine rises, memory slips and the brain shrinks faster. The good news is that the reverse is also true.

As homocysteine goes down, memory either improves or doesn’t get worse, and accelerated brain shrinkage stops. Just in case this is new to you, the evidence for all this is very strong and can be seen on the Food For the Brain site. By 2008 ‘seventy seven cross sectional studies on more than 34,000 subjects and 33 prospective studies on more than 12,000 subjects had shown associations between cognitive deficit or dementia and homocysteine and/or B vitamins’, to quote one review. Then, last year pioneering research at Oxford University showed that individuals with a homocysteine level above 9 have accelerated brain shrinkage and associated cognitive decline. However, if given certain B-Vitamins, this accelerated brain shrinkage actually stops and so does further cognitive decline.

Their homocysteine levels also plummeted. Last month the Nature Journal gave a stamp of approval to this research, and the growing evidence that high dose B vitamins really do work, confirming that high homocysteine is associated with an increase in the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. In Germany doctors run literally millions of homocysteine tests a year. In the UK it’s rare to find a doctor that tests homocysteine, let alone one that screens older people and then treats them with ‘evidence based medicine’ meaning high dose B vitamins and other critical nutrients. One that does is Dr Andrew McCaddon, a GP from Wrexham, who spoke at the Prevent Alzheimers Now conference last weekend. “Patients presenting with mild cognitive impairment frequently have raised blood homocysteine levels; I routinely measure this in all such cases.

There is now good evidence for lowering elevated levels with high dose B vitamins. I also prescribe the antioxidant NAC to further lower homocysteine. In my experience, I have found significant clinical improvement from this approach." Dr McCaddon. If you want to test your homocysteine and your GP won't do it, YorkTest supply a homocysteine test you can do yourself. While much of the leading research has given people B6 (around 20mg), folic acid (around 800mcg) and B12 (around 500mcg), which is 500 times the RDA, these are not the only nutrients that lower homocysteine and improve brain function and memory. Others include NAC (N Acetyl Cysteine), TMG (Trimethylglycine) and zinc. Why aren’t we being told all this? The reason, I think, is quite simple. There’s no patentable, high profitable drug. Instead, you’ll keep reading stories about amyloid protein (the stuff that forms in the brain… because of high homocysteine) and drugs that are in development to stop amyloid protein forming (none of which have worked in trials) when the solution is really simple.

You’ll keep hearing about ‘Alzheimer genes’ and yet genes cause only one in a hundred cases of Alzheimer’s. The remaining 99% could be preventable. Today a FREE Cognitive Function Test has been launched on the Food for the Brain website. This can help you understand if you are at risk of developing dementia and is designed for those aged 50 - 70. I look at everything you can do to improve your memory and enhance your cognitive powers whatever your age in the second half of my Feel Good Factor seminars. There are lots of things you can do and lowering your homocysteine is only one angle of attack. I've already visited South Africa, the UK and Ireland on my Feel Good Factor tour and am about to embark on a tour of Canada. If you missed the seminars your next best bet is to read these books: Alzheimer’s Prevention Plan and The Feel Good Factor.

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