Exploding Alzheimer Rate Linked to Diabetes, and Cancer

Exploding Alzheimer Rate Linked to Diabetes, and Cancer
© 2011 Health Realizations, Inc


Alzheimer’s disease, already the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, is expected to increase to staggering numbers in coming years. Currently, up to 5.4 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s, according to the 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures from the Alzheimer’s Association. One in eight people over the age 65 have Alzheimer's according to the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP), a population based study of chronic health diseases of older people.


By 2050 a new person will develop Alzheimer’s every 33 seconds, according to the latest predictions.

Further, every 70 seconds someone develops this debilitating and fatal disease – and by 2050 the Alzheimer’s Association estimates this will increase to one person every 33 seconds. Numerous projections now show that the number of people with Alzheimer’s is likely to continue to grow rapidly:

    • By 2030, 7.7 million people aged 65 and older will have Alzheimer’s, representing a more than 50 percent increase, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

    • By 2029, new cases of Alzheimer's are expected to increase to 615,000 … and by 2050, to 959,000, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

    • The number of people affected by dementia (including Alzheimer’s) will double every 20 years to over 81 million by 2040, according to research published in the medical journal Lancet. In developed countries dementia rates are forecast to increase by 100 percent between 2001 and 2040, and by more than 300 percent during this time in India, China, and other south Asian and western Pacific regions.

What is Alzheimer’s … and Why are These Predictions so Dire?

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, was named for Alois Alzheimer, a German physician who first described the disease back in 1906. This progressive and fatal brain disease destroys brain cells, leading to memory loss and difficulty thinking and performing behaviors necessary to get through daily life.

Alzheimer’s gets worse over time, eventually impacting work, hobbies, social life and the ability to take care of yourself. There is currently no cure, and Alzheimer’s disease is fatal. Although there are five drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Alzheimer’s, they only slow the worsening of symptoms for about six to 12 months, on average, in about half of those who take them.

The Alzheimer’s Association has compiled 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s that are useful to know, especially if you are currently caring for someone who is elderly (increasing age is the greatest risk factor for this disease).

    • Memory loss that disrupts daily life

    • Challenges in planning or solving problems

    • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure

    • Confusion with time or place

    • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships

    • New problems with words in speaking or writing

    • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps

    • Decreased or poor judgment

    • Withdrawal from work or social activities

    • Changes in mood and personality

Diabetes May Increase Your Alzheimer’s Risk

A new study in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that diabetes not only increases the risks of mild cognitive impairment, but also increases the risk of this impairment progressing to dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. A previous study in the Archives of Neurology even found diabetes may increase Alzheimer’s risk by up to 65 percent!

The connection is so strong that some researchers have gone so far as to suggest Alzheimer’s disease is a third form of diabetes. In fact, insulin and insulin receptors in your brain are necessary for learning and memory. But Northwestern University scientists have shown that a toxic protein in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients removes insulin receptors from nerve cells and leaves those brain cells insulin resistant.

It’s thought that Alzheimer’s disease may be partially due to insulin resistance in your brain.

This is especially concerning since diabetes is now at epidemic levels in the United States, and highlights the importance of controlling diabetes if you do have it.

Cancer and Alzheimer’s May Also be Related

Intriguing new research published in Neurology found that people with Alzheimer’s disease may be less likely to get cancer. Compared to people without Alzheimer’s, patients with Alzheimer’s disease at the beginning of the study were 69 percent less likely to be hospitalized with cancer during the study period.

“This study adds to the literature suggesting that cancer and neurodegenerative diseases may be related,” lead researcher Catherine M. Roe, PhD, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, told WebMD.

Lifestyle Changes to Help You Prevent Alzheimer’s

Just because you get older does not mean that you will develop Alzheimer's, and there are, in fact, known methods to prevent this epidemic disease.

Further, since Alzheimer’s diabetes and cancer (not to mention countless other disease) are all impacted by lifestyle changes, you may be drastically lowering your risk of these three epidemic diseases by making the following changes.

1. Eat Healthy and Maximize Your Nutrient Absorption

Your best defense against this disease appears to be in the food you eat. A study published in Alzheimer's and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association found that people who eat the recommended amount of folate have a much lower risk of developing the disease.

Folates are B-vitamins found in leafy green vegetables, oranges, legumes and bananas.

Along with loading up on such healthy fruits and vegetables you can make sure you are maximizing your nutrient absorption from the healthy foods you eat by taking a high-quality enzyme supplement. Digestive enzymes are what allow your food to be broken down, and the nutrients absorbed by your bloodstream. However, many people lack these crucial catalysts to your digestion.

There are numerous enzyme supplements available on the market to help increase your levels, but one strong suggestion is to find a plant-based, acid-resistant digestive enzyme formulation.

A vegetable-based digestive enzyme formulation ideally combines an effective ratio of proteases, amylases, lipases and cellulases with two "acid-tolerant" bacteria or a probiotic combination, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum.

Such products addresses not only the digestive enzyme system deficiencies recognized in most adults, but they also combine two effectively beneficial bacterial strains that are metabolically complementary and help create a symbiosis with the digestive enzyme system complex and helps promote immune system excellence.

2. Reduce Stress and Stay Positive

According to the Center for Healthy Minds, elderly people who experience a lot of psychological distress (worrying, feeling insecure or nervous) are more likely to show signs of mental decline. In fact, one study found that people prone to high levels of distress were twice as likely to develop symptoms of Alzheimer's disease after five years than those who were prone to low levels of distress.

Further, adults who suffer from depression have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's than those who show few or no depressive symptoms.

Avoid head injuries. Research has uncovered a strong link between serious head injury and Alzheimer's. You can reduce your risk of head injury by always wearing a seat belt while driving, wearing a helmet on a motorcycle or bicycle and making sure to remove tripping hazards around your home.

3. Exercise Regularly

Numerous studies have shown that exercising, even modestly, reduces the risk of dementia, including Alzheimer's.

One study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that seniors who did as little as 15 minutes a day of modest exercise three times a week reduced their risk of developing dementia by about 30 percent.

And a separate study from researchers at the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center in Chicago found that the greater a person’s muscle strength, the lower their risk of Alzheimer's was over a four-year period. They also had a lower risk for loss of mental function, which often occurs prior to Alzheimer’s.

Exercise also has the added benefit of acting as an ideal stress relief tool.

4. Keep a Strong Social Life

A robust social life also appears to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's, according to a study in the September 2008 issue of Alzheimer's & Dementia.

Those who participated in home and family activities, visited friends and relatives, attended parties, card games and other club activities and had home hobbies were less likely to develop the disease, researchers found.

5. Stimulate Your Brain

"A lifetime of intellectual curiosity and mental stimulation" may help to promote brain health, according to the Alzheimer's Association. In fact, numerous studies suggest that stimulating your brain as you age can ward off dementia and cognitive decline.

And according to the Mayo Clinic, "Some researchers believe that lifelong mental exercise and learning may promote the growth of additional synapses, the connections between neurons, and delay the onset of dementia."

Yaakov Stern, a neuropsychologist at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, agrees.

"Just keeping busy seems to tune the brain," he told USA Today. In a seven-year study of 1,800 older adults, Stern found that the more "leisure pursuits" a person had, the lower their risk of developing Alzheimer's. Leisure pursuits included:

    • Visiting friends

    • Playing cards

    • Going to the movies

You can also try crossword puzzles, games like chess and checkers, reading, attending a lecture, volunteering or taking a class that interests you.

So the good news is that there are plenty of activities you can start right now to help keep your brain healthy and reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The even better news is that as you incorporate these healthy lifestyle changes into your daily routine, you’ll likely experience even more benefits -- like increased energy, improved mood and even weight loss -- too!


Alzheimer's Association, 2011 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures

British Journal of Psychiatry 2010 Jan;196(1):36-40.

Neurology December 23, 2009

WebMD December 23, 2009

Lancet. 2005 Dec 17;366(9503):2112-7.

Archives of Neurology 2004 May;61(5):661-6.
Physorg.com September 26, 2007

USA Today August 17, 2005