In February, the U.S. government forecast that the nation’s health care spending will consume an expanding share of the U.S. economy during the next decade. Officials predict health care to cost $4.3 trillion by 2017 and account for 19.5 percent of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In 2007, U.S. health care spending stood at $2.2 trillion, and that spending will rise by 6.7 percent annually for the next ten years. One of the contributing factors to the surge in health care spending is the aging Baby Boomer population. In the U.S. men and women born between 1946 and 1964 are turning 60 at the rate of 330 per hour. They are also now cashing in on Medicare health benefits, and by 2017 Medicare payouts will climb to $884 billion—more than one-fifth of all national health care spending, and nearly double the programs spending in 2007.
How long can such soaring health care spending continue? A number of public policy experts predict that Medicare will be bankrupt by 2019. Thus, it is now time for individual consumers to take control of their health destinies.
One of the biggest burdens in health care is in the care of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). More than 26 million people worldwide were estimated to be living with AD in 2006. By 2050, AD will afflict more than 106 million people. Some projections estimate that number will triple by 2050. A disease of epidemic proportion, it is now critical to identify not only risk factors that increase the risk of AD, but to elucidate mechanisms that affect the rate of disease progression. We review some of the most promising recent studies that suggest the potential for simple and effective natural, non-drug approaches to counter the biological mechanisms behind Alzheimer’s Disease.
B Vitamin Deficiencies Increase Dementia Risk
A study of 518 men and women, average age 74, for 2.4 years, found that dementia occurred more commonly in those with a decline in folate, with folate deficiency correlated to a 3.5-time increase in the likelihood of developing the disease. Additionally, the researchers found low concentrations of vitamin B12 to be associated with the risk of dementia.¹
Omega-3 Cuts Brain Plaque Buildup
Characteristic of Alzheimer’s Disease Greg Cole and colleagues from the University of California/Los Angeles have shown that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid, cuts the buildup of plaques from beta-amyloid deposits that are associated with brain cell damage and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, the researchers found that DHA boosts production of a protein, LR11, that is known to destroy the brain plaques characteristic of AD. The team found that the protective effects of DHA on LR11 persisted in models of cells from mice, rats, and human brain cells. The researchers encourage the intake of supplemental fish oil (one of the most potent sources of omega-3s) as a intervention measure at the earliest stages of the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s Accelerated by High Blood Pressure, Other Cardiovascular Conditions
Cardiovascular factors speed the decline in mental functioning that occurs in Alzheimer’s disease. Data collected and analyzed by the Dementia Progression Study found that people with AD who had high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation (a common disturbance of the heartbeat), or angina (chest pain) also exhibited accelerated progression of mental decline.²
Alzheimer’s—Herpes Virus Link
In lab tests it was found that brains infected with the herpes simplex virus, HSV-1, also had elevated levels of the beta amyloid protein characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.³ Previous research has found that HSV-1 is found in the brains of up to 70 percent of people afflicted with AD. Researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center (New York, USA) found the HSV-1 virus is more likely to cause a problem in people who carry a mutant version of the ApoE4 gene, which is carried by the vast majority of AD patients.
A board-certified, fellowship trained anti-aging physician can work as your health partner to identify and address your risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, and help you reduce the odds of succumbing to this debilitating disorder. Log onto The World Health Network, at www.worldhealth.net, or call 866.693.3376, to find an anti-aging physician near you. Visit www.worldhealthnet.tv and learn to stay young by watching anti-aging medical videos hosted by Drs. Klatz and Goldman of the A4M.
- J.M. Kim and colleagues from Chonnam National University Medical School (Korea).
- Michelle Mielke and colleagues of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Baltimore, Maryland).
- Ruth Itzhaki and colleagues of Manchester University (United Kingdom).