Is there hope for Alzheimer’s disease?
This past week NOVA aired Can Alzheimer’s Be Stopped? (watch below) The program covered research funded by drug companies as they race to cure Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The profit potential from discovering a breakthrough cure, as noted at the beginning, is well into the Billions. Sadly, a treatment without a cure may be worth even more. So hence the race, given the large and growing numbers of people affected and the devastating impact the disease has on them, their caregivers, and society.
Not to take anything away from this important work, but the program caused me to think about other research that might be just as important, or more so. And I thought about what doesn’t get funding without billion dollar potential.
Is There Hope for Alzheimer’s Disease?
Yes, there’s hope, but do we expect the best hope to come from the drug companies? Given their profit history and financial incentive to serve shareholder investment interests, often at the expense of public interests, I think not.
Don’t get too excited about genetics. The video showed a genetic mutation that caused a higher Alzheimer’s risk factor among a group of families, but genetics can also show increased EMR sensitivity or faster caffeine metabolism. I just question the motives of companies funding profitable research and working to hide other research, even while I remain a fan of personalized medicine that uses genetics as a tool for finding the most effective treatments. And as an engineer, I know that there’s almost always different ways of achieving the same desired result. Here’s some more.
For someone with Alzheimer’s already, a new drug treatment program sounds pretty darn good, at any cost. But I personally prefer prevention because of what Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Start with the pillars of health: Nutrition, Exercise and Sleep. Getting the right nutrients into cells, and avoiding harmful chemicals, is key to cell health overall, so the right diet can help reduce risk of any disease, including Alzheimer’s. The same is said for exercise, which helps pump up the circulatory system so oxygen-rich blood easily gets to the cells. And then there’s sleep, because that’s when the body generates important hormones & neurotransmitters, when it recovers from all the stresses put on it during the day, and when the brain decides what to save into long-term memory.
Lifestyle choices and environmental factors can have more impact than we may think. It can take decades for the body to show the accumulated effects of contaminated air, water and food supplies. That also goes for the electromagnetic radiation (EMR) that fills our homes and workspace from the lights and electronics we use. Profitable industries have no incentive or interest in funding health & safety studies that might diminish demand for their products. Sure, they’ll fund research to find a potential billion dollar drug, but not to understand the health impact of wireless networks or food additives.
Much has been written recently about artificial light and sleep deficiency being possible causes of Alzheimer’s, but even with lots of anecdotal evidence, we’ve not seen well-funded clinical trials to prove a causal relationship. Maybe it’s just too early.
Animal studies, mostly in mice, have however shown that during the deep & restorative stages of sleep, neurons shrink in size to help circulating cerebral fluids flush out beta amyloid proteins that otherwise can build up as the plaque associated with Alzheimer’s. Apparently the brain (and central nervous system, CNS) has it’s own cleansing system, the glymphatic system, to remove waste products from cell metabolism. It’s much like the lymphatic system, which does the same through the bloodstream for waste accumulated elsewhere in the body. This cleansing process only occurs at night since the brain is too busy doing other things during the day. So because sleep deficiency can affect the efficiency of this cleansing process, it may be a primary cause of Alzheimer’s.
Besides being the body’s most powerful antioxidant to help fight disease, the hormone melatonin also regulates the circadian rhythm (body clock) and promotes sleep in response to darkness and the day/night cycle. Actually, it’s the blue part of the light spectrum between 450-500 nm that the pineal gland responds to, so avoiding all blue light at night helps. In the morning, bright sunlight or full-spectrum artificial lights suppresses Melatonin production to also help regulate the circadian rhythm.
The body produces less melatonin with age and even less with artificial light, so this too seems like a factor in the rise of Alzheimer’s, a disease that wasn’t even discovered until 1906. Note: that was a decade after Thomas Edison’s light bulb. Where’s the research funding to study the obvious association between artificial light and melatonin, and between sleep and Alzheimer’s?
The universe doesn’t speak English. It speaks frequency, and our bodies do too. As described in the documentary, Resonance, these frequencies govern our breathing & heart rate, how our cells communicate & divide, and the light/dark circadian rhythm that regulates sleep & wakefulness. Our DNA and this delicate balance of frequencies has evolved over millions of years to match that of the universe itself – 7.83 MHz.
In just the last 25-150 years this balance has been disturbed – by electric lights, and by wireless networks that surrounds us with their own electromagnetic frequencies and drowns out the earth’s natural resonance. Unfortunately, and maybe even disastrously, powerful factions such as those in the wireless industry oppose any association with these man-made frequencies and human health. They even fund papers to disprove or discredit any work that implies a concern.
And because wireless networks are now prominent in almost every society on earth, we’re running out of control group populations to study that don’t live among man-made frequencies. That means we may never learn about the negative health impact until it’s too late.