Prevention Theories

The Scientific Method and the Prevention of Alzheimer’s DiseaseBased on current research what are the scientifically proven strategies to lesson the
possibility of getting Alzheimer’s Disease?  Turn’s out the answer to this question is not easy.    There are either many, there are some possibilities,  or there on none.  It depends how rigid you adhere to the scientific method of controlled double-blind
studies with a defined margin of error over a long period of time.  The reality is, unlike the famous Framingham Heart Study that has been studying causes of heart disease since 1948, Alzheimer’s Disease research is in its relative infancy.

Remember back not long ago when the tobacco companies claimed under perjury and on death of their first born, “It has not been scientifically proven that tobacco is … (fill in your favorite denial of addiction or deadly outcome.)  I don’t recall any tobacco company executive convicted for lying or sacrificing their first born, so I assumed tobacco health hazards and addiction had not been “proven” to a certainty of the scientific method.  Clearly, today, it has.

I’m a fan of science and the scientific method but one need not always wait for the peer-reviewed, statistically proven theory before taking action.  There is a time to go ahead and take the best possible answer for Alzheimer’s prevention even in the midst of scientifically unproven ideas – clearly only if the idea can do no harm.

For instance, if some theory suggests ingesting 50ml of used motor oil daily to prevent
Alzheimer’s one might want to hold off until the peer-reviewed article. On the other
hand if a theory to prevent Alzheimer’s suggests eating strawberries, go ahead, washing
first of course – the strawberries, not you, unless you smell.

And speaking of strawberries preventing Alzheimer’s Disease, maybe it does or doe not.  There was a 2006 Salk Institute scientific study that concluded memories of rats were enhanced by fisetin, a naturally occurring flavonoid commonly found in strawberries, tomatoes, onions, oranges, apples, peaches, grapes, kiwifruit and persimmons.  The unanswered question is:   Does something that enhances memory prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?  Lots of speculation (and internet site, books) would like to state it does.   The scientific community would probably say no, not proven.

The consensus opinion suggests memory enhancing foods and activities help the existing brain, specifically neurons in the hippocampus, and may extend the use of a diseased brain, but not prevent or cure Alzheimer’s Disease.

Recently, on February 4, 2011 there was a fascinating interview on NPR, Growing a Bigger Brain is a Walk in the Park, about the results of a study on how adults who walked for 40 minutes three times a week for a year had brain growth in the hippocampus — an area of the brain associated with spatial memory.

It was pointed out cognitive training,  doing crossword puzzles,  tends have very specific effects:  getting better at doing crossword puzzles.  Whereas, exercise causes new neurons and brain connections which allow for new learning and memory capacity, allowing for a cognitive reserve.  I think the implication (though not stated) in the interview is these new found neurons and connections from exercise can stave off Alzheimer’s Disease.  Just a theory, not proven.


1.  Continue doing Crossword puzzles.  May not prevent Alzheimer’s Disease but will help your short term cognitive skills and you get to use odd words like yurt and ort.

2.  Put strawberries on your cereal in the morning.  They taste good and you will remember what you had for breakfast.

2.  Exercise.  May help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, will make your brain get a little bigger and makes for good cocktail conversation, “… just finished the marathon in 5:04 and my hippocampus grew by 10,000 neurons.”

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