That one word is a synonym for the ‘long, slow goodbye,’ as people we love are ravaged by this awful thief- of memory, time, joy, sorrow, knowledge, of everything that makes us part of the human family.
It’s the only disease among the nation’s ten most common causes of death that has no effective medicines on offer. A diagnosis of this scourge is devastating, not only to patients but to their families. It has beaten the world’s best neurologists. Billions have been spent testing drugs that fail. In fact, most potential treatments never get past the testing stage.
Now comes the wonderful part.
Dr. Dale Bredesen is a neurologist who has worked decades with his colleagues to fix that. He’s just finished a book detailing what’s been learned.
I couldn’t put it down. I’ve read it twice in three days.
Bredesen et al have made some giant strides toward killing this killer. It’s called:
The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent And Reverse Cognitive Decline
The book marks the beginning of a research and treatment revolution. Its most important realization? Alzheimer’s ...*’isn’t a single-cause disease, but one with many potential contributors.” *(taken from chapter 5)
His paper, published in September of 2014 in AGING, announces the magnitude of the problem.
‘Recent estimates suggest that AD has become the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind cardiovascular disease and cancer...
A woman’s chance of developing AD is now greater than her chance of developing breast cancer.’
Most of the other diseases happen due to environmental factors, dangerous lifestyles, or a single molecular failure. That’s how Alzheimer’s has been tackled in the last 40 years. The hunt was ‘for the cause.’
This new way of thinking- from ‘identifying the cause,’ to ‘identifying the causes’ has yielded huge advances.
Bredesen likens previous research failures this way: think of the brain as a house that stores everything that is precious to its owner. Roofers have been trained to recognize- and fix- one hole in its roof very well, but they don’t address -or recognize- 36 other holes that need attention. The result: too much rain gets in for too long; the house is eventually awash.
Today, though, new technology has made possible a much more complete understanding of how to identify those other ‘holes’- the molecular mechanisms responsible for potential ‘roof’ (cognitive) failure.
The number 36 isn’t pulled out of the air. Bredesen and his team have identified 36 different contributors to eventual brain neurodegeneration to date. He thinks a few more will likely be found. Lab tests are learning to identify how dangerous each of the ‘holes’ is. (If most are fixed, the ‘house’ can still be maintained and habitable.)
It is yet to be determined how many ‘roof holes’ a person can safely live with. More research will lead to new revelations. Bredesen and his team will continue to improve the EnCODE treatment, tailored to each individual’s metabolic needs.)
The patients’ dramatic responses to Bredesen’s ReCODE program- a combination of pills, diet changes, reduction of stress, minimization of inflammation, especially of the bowels, as well as many other therapeutic changes - are incredibly heartening. They knocked me over.
Honestly, there is so much to learn and ponder in this tome that it’s impossible to get into it all, here. The man can write clearly and well. His smooth, natural delivery is never boring. Read, too, about the obstacles he’s had to contend with over the years. I was often floored, and frustrated.
Kindle has the book, but I’ve ordered a hard copy so I can carry it everywhere, underline, make notes and bend page corners. It isn’t a thick tome, by the way; there are 12 chapters packed with the most riveting discoveries/information I’ve read about in years. Begin with the introduction. I jumped around the chapters for the first reading, but read it much more carefully the second time, not skipping anything. The next read will concentrate on the science.
The patients’ accounts of their personal battles with this insidious monster, and what they’ve experienced on Bredesen’s ReCODE program, leave me awed and excited.
If you’re curious- if you want the very latest information on what is being done to diagnose and then beat back this terror, read the book.
At long last, the bright light at the end the tunnel IS NOT an oncoming train.
(And no, I don’t have Alzheimer’s. I’m just immensely interested in keeping up with medical advances.
For me, this one tops them all.)