Alzheimer's disease (AD) is incurable. In AD there is degeneration and then death of large areas of
nerve tissue in key regions of the brain. In the early stage there is a loss of short term memory,
groping for words during a conversation, minor problems with arithmetic and small errors of judgement.
As it progresses to mid stage disease there are greater problems with language and the patient starts
to lose awareness that they have memory problems. At this stage it becomes very hard and stressful to
take care of the patient and temper outbursts, agitation, disorientation, and depression start to
occur. In end-stage AD the patient eventually just stops breathing. 50% of the population over 85
have AD and statisticians expect the incidence of people with AD to reach 14 million by the year
2050. The baby boomer generation is the first generation to understand what it means if they are
diagnosed with AD.
If a person has a variant of a gene for apolipoprotein E (the apoE4 gene) inherited from one parent
they have a 50% chance of developing AD. If they inherit the variant gene from both parents they have
a 90% chance of developing it. The overall cost of caring for someone with AD is estimated to be
In this amazing study researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore followed 5000 elderly
residents of Cache County in Utah for 8 years. The age of the study participants ranged form the late
60s to 70s. If patients with the apoE4 gene variant who are at very high risk for developing AD took a
combination of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and ibuprofen daily they had no decline in cognitive function over
the 8 year follow-up period. If they took just any one of these they experienced memory decline. The
researchers also found that for elderly patients without the gene variant, just taking a daily
supplement of both Vitamin C and Vitamin E was enough to decrease the risk. The study was presented
this week in San Diego at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.
Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.
Studies show it is not the caffeine which helps decrease
the risk of developing diabetes but probably the polyphenols.
S-Adenosylmethionine and Betaine may prevent treatment failure in patients with hepatitis C
Hepatitis C (HCV) infection is an important cause of chronic liver disease and damage. HCV causes
cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure. It is the most common blood-borne infection in America
responsible for about 10,000 deaths annually in the US. Treating patients with pegylated interferon
alpha combined with ribavirin is standard therapy for HCV and this treatment results in a sustained
therapeutic response in about half of all patients. Resistance to treatment with this drug combination
is a serious problem and interference caused by the virus with a key immune system pathway
(the jak-STAT pathway) is part of the reason for resistance. Interfering with this pathway results
in damage and death of liver cells because key longevity genes are turned off. As it turns out,
treating infected cells with SAMe (s-adenosylmethionine) and betaine restores the ability of these
genes to function and improves therapy with interferon and ribavirin in this study. The research was
performed at the University Hospital Basel, Switzerland and is published in the April 2006 issue of
the journal Hepatology.
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