Genes don’t cause Alzheimer’s

The discovery of two new ‘contributor’ genes for Alzheimer’s has led to hyped up headlines implying that the cure will be drugs that nullify their genetic effects. The Daily Mail call it “Alzheimer’s – an amazing leap – the biggest breakthrough in 15 years” but, in truth, having these gene variations doesn’t cause Alzheimer’s but slightly increases a person’s risk. Only 1 in 100 cases of Alzheimer’s are caused by genes – these relate to very rare early onset cases that are clearly inherited.

Variations in the new contributor genes, called CLU and PICALM plus the previously known APOE gene, may increase a person’s chances of developing Alzheimers by about10%. This is a much smaller increased risk than known diet and lifestyle factors such as not eating only fish, not exercising, and not getting enough folic acid or vitamin B12. Having a high homocysteine level, a very good indicator of insufficient B6, B12 or folic acid, is a much more significant risk factor which you can easily test for with a home test kit. What’s interesting about the discovery of these contributor genes is that they further support the hypothesis that the underlying process that leads to the brain damage seen in Alzheimer’s is inflammation.

Of course, drug companies latch onto this as another opportunity to sell anti-inflammatory drugs. But these drugs have significant dangers associated with them and kill over 2,000 people a year in Britain. Last week Pfizer was fined a record 2 billion dollars for criminal charges.

There are many safe and effective natural anti-inflammatories including oily fish, turmeric, ginger, olives and polyphenol rich foods including berries, dark chocolate and tea, which are known to decrease risk. A major cause of inflammation, and contributor to memory loss, is excessive weight gain.

I’m going to be explaining how to reduce pain, inflammation and lose weight in my No Pain, No Weight Gain seminars in Ireland and London. See for details. My books Alzheimers Prevention Plan and Say No to Arthritis explain how to reduce inflammation and reduce your risk for these diseases.