June is Alzheimer’s and brain awareness month. Two of our physicians share their thoughts on the topic.
Dr. Barke: What’s the point of being tested?
We can’t do anything about it anyways. This is the common thinking process when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease and memory problems in general. But, is it true?
There is a growing body of evidence that suggests Alzheimer’s disease might be preventable. There’s also evidence that can be slowed and possibly even reversed.
First, let me state that most memory problems have nothing to do with Alzheimer’s. There is a long list of reasons for memory problems including: Insomnia, stress, depression, diabetes, thyroid disease, etc. Getting tested is important because many of these are easily treated.
Okay, now back to Alzheimer’s. Why test if you can’t treat? Because identifying the disease early offers hope for treatment. In addition, we now offer a genetic test called ApoE that identifies those with an increased risk. Standard treatment can slow the progression of the disease and the early it is identified the better.
Dale Bredesen, M.D. has pioneered a multifaceted approach to preventing and reversing Alzheimer’s disease that includes a very stringent diet, the removal of toxic exposures, and the use of a range of supplements. Although a cure is likely a long way off, the Bredesen approach is certainly a breath of fresh air in an otherwise devastating diagnosis.
Dr. Vivi: Hormones are not clearly linked to Alzheimer’s Disease or long term memory loss.
At the Stanford Medical School I researched estrogen’s effect on plaque formation in Alzheimer’s Disease. After spending a year with my head in a hood pipetting estrogen into cancers cells, the conclusion was upsetting. Estrogen showed to have no (!) neuroprotective effect on the amount of plaque accumulated. One of my professors found my work years later and asked to include it in her study on postmenopausal women. Her study summary is included below. The conclusion: hormones are not clearly linked to Alzheimer’s Disease or long term memory loss.
Beyond my personal research, studies across the globe do not conclusively implicate hormones as a cause for dementia. This is important because estrogen replacement after menopause is often given the limelight for its effects on short term memory, hot flashes and mood swings. Nonetheless, the price to pay for hormone replacement is high- ovarian and breast cancer, as well as clotting/heart disease. If you are on hormone replacement therapy be sure to speak with your doctor to get all your questions answered!
We at Personal Care Physicians take a holistic approach to healthcare including identifying and treating memory disorders. Thank you for allowing us to share in your journey.