Memory Study

Alzheimer’s Disease Myths

There are many myths associated with Alzheimer’s disease, some quite believable ones and some not so believable ones, here we debunk the myths of Alzheimer’s disease.

1 – Alzheimer’s is not a fatal disease

Myth! Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease in that it can contribute to death, or the cause of death. Sufferers will live an average of 8 years or 20 years from the first point of showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s – half as long as those not suffering from the disease. Alzheimer’s isn’t immediately life threatening, it is a slow and gradual disease that affects other parts of the body too. Because many sufferers who do die can also have suffered with other illnesses and diseases, it can be quite difficult to determine whether or not Alzheimer’s actually played a greater role in the death.

2 – Alzheimer’s is part of the aging process

Myth! Alzheimer’s is an illness, not a natural part of aging such as wrinkles, gray hair or hair loss for example. Indeed not everyone will go on to suffer with this disease, in fact most don’t. This myth comes from the idea that memory loss, the signature of Alzheimer’s, was once attributed to old-age with the belief that like the body, the mind slows down. While this is true, the mind does indeed slow down and old-age can cause “forgetfulness”, experts now recognize severe memory loss however as the sign of serious illness such as Alzheimer’s.

3 – Drinking from aluminum cans or eating meals cooked in aluminum pots and pans can cause Alzheimer’s disease

Myth! Research, testing and debate has proven inconclusive on this subject and experts don’t believe aluminum intake or exposure to be a risk factor behind Alzheimer’s disease based on this. Although further research is being carried out. Human contact with aluminum whether via the environment or through such things as cans of Cola or cooking utensils made from the material is unavoidable. However our intake of aluminum is very low due to the insoluble forms it often comes in. It is believed that the average human intake of aluminum is anywhere between 30 and 50 mg per day which is very low and not considered harmful at all. Testing on rats which share most of our genetic makeup believe it or not has shown that exposure to greater intakes of aluminum, double the average, didn’t effect the cortex (thinking) area or the hippocampus (memory) area of the brain significantly enough to cause alarm.

4 – Aspartame can cause Alzheimer’s disease

Myth! Scientific research has found no link between Aspartame – an artificial sweetener used as a sugar substitute in some foods and drinks – and Alzheimer’s disease. Although some scientists do believe that Aspartame is a neurotoxin, something that can affect the central nervous system. That is a controversial claim and further research and study is being carried out, but no, Aspartame doesn’t cause Alzheimer’s or lead to memory loss.

5 – A bang to the head can cause Alzheimer’s disease

Myth! While research and study has shown that the disease is quite common in people who have suffered with some form of head injury at some stage of their life, there is no real direct link that head injuries are a direct cause of Alzheimer’s, although previous brain trauma is clearly now identified as a potential risk factor.

6 – I’m not at risk because no-one in my family has ever suffered with Alzheimer’s disease before

Myth! Statistics show that you are more likely to develop the disease if there is no real history of the disease in your family. There are two types of Alzheimer’s disease; familial Alzheimer’s disease and sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. Familial Alzheimer’s is a hereditary form of the disease and is passed on through the genes, however this form only accounts for 5% of all cases. Sporadic Alzheimer’s is much more common and is caused by many factors.

7 – Only old people get Alzheimer’s disease

Myth! While 90% of all cases occur in people over the age of 60 and that with age, the risk factors grow, people in their 30s, 40s and 50s however have been known to develop the disease. Scientists believe those who do show signs of Alzheimer’s disease at an earlier than usual age are more than likely to be the victims of FAD or Familial Alzheimer’s which is a hereditary form of the disease passed on through the genes.

8 – Men are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s than women

Myth! Alzheimer’s disease affects both men and women that is true but it is believed to be more common in women. The reason for this claim scientists is due to the fact that women live longer than their opposite sex so are more likely to develop the disease at some stage of their life.

9 – Alzheimer’s disease can be cured

Myth! Sadly there is no known medically proven cure for Alzheimer’s disease or treatment that can stop the progression of the disease. However some drugs have temporarily proven sufficient in helping with memory loss and other thinking difficulties associated with Alzheimer’s. Research and study is plentiful and with modern medicine, new techniques and more and more money being pumped into finding a cure, scientists are one day hopeful that they can develop a tangible method of treatment for the disease.

10 – Alzheimer’s is a death sentence

Myth! While Alzheimer’s can lead or contribute to death, the disease isn’t nor shouldn’t be considered a death sentence because it isn’t. Some sufferers learn to live with their condition and with the help of loved ones and good treatment, sufferers can enjoy life just as much as those who don’t suffer from the disease.

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