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Alzheimer's cure remains elusive

Traditional wisdom for avoiding Alzheimer’s Disease still doesn’t pass scientific scrutiny.
By ADAM COHEN AND STEPHEN PRESCOTT, For The Oklahoman Published: June 24, 2014
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Adam’s journal

I just read that more than 5 million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. In that same article, experts predicted that by the year 2050, that number could triple. (Note to self: stop reading depressing stories.)

I’m still hopeful for some sort of medical breakthrough to change those grim statistics. And better yet if that breakthrough came from the work of Dr. Jordan Tang or other Alzheimer’s researchers at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation!

In the meantime, I’d like to hedge my bets. What tips can you give to help me — and others — avoid Alzheimer’s?

Dr. Prescott prescribes

If you troll the Internet, you’ll find all sorts of recommendations to ward off Alzheimer’s. And just about every one claims to be backed by research. Here are a few I’ve seen:

Exercise.

Keep your brain active.

Eat right.

Stay socially engaged.

Control your blood pressure and cholesterol.

Take various nutritional supplements.

Sounds good, right?

The only problem is, when a blue-ribbon panel of scientists reviewed all the studies cited to support these various recommendations in 2010, they came up with a big goose egg.

After rigorous scientific review, the researchers could not report with even moderate confidence that any particular behavior lessened a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

The only thing the researchers found with a high degree of confidence went in the other direction: that the herb gingko biloba did not prevent Alzheimer’s. They also determined with a moderate degree of confidence that vitamin E — found in nuts, leafy green vegetables and fortified cereals — had no effect.

Other than that, the evidence was poor that a variety of other factors, such as keeping your brain active, exercising, eating a Mediterranean diet or maintaining a strong social network, affected a person’s risk of developing the disease.

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