Five Myths About Alzheimer’s Disease

mythsThere are many misconceptions out there about Alzheimer’s. Below are some of the most common, along with explanations about what the real deal is.

There are cures that will stop the development of Alzheimer’s.

Unfortunately, at this time there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and no way to halt its progress. However, there are drugs that will, temporarily, pause the deterioration of or even improve cognitive skills and memory. But they only, for a period of time, treat the symptoms and not the disease itself. These drugs only work for some people, so there’s no guarantee that they can help your loved one. These drugs include cholinesterase inhibtors like Aricept and Exelon, and memantine (also known as Namenda). Cholinesterase inhibitors are used in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s, and memantine is prescribed later on.

The aspartame in artificial sweeteners contributes to memory loss.

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener approved by the FDA in 1996. It is made by combining two proteins, phenylalanine and aspartic acid, with methanol, a chemical found in various plant foods. The studies that have been done on this issue so far have yielded no evidence of a connection between memory loss and aspartame.

The use of aluminum in cooking or with food can cause Alzheimer’s.

Current studies do not show that eliminating aluminum, such as that in pots and pans and soda cans, reduces one’s chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease. The jury is still out on aluminum’s relationship to the disease, but scientists generally think that it is unlikely that it has any significant effect.

Alzheimer’s disease can be caused by a head injury.

This one is partially true: researchers have proven that having a severe head injury with loss of consciousness during one’s life will increase the chances that the individual will get Alzheimer’s disease. However, researchers don’t yet understand why this occurs and what is happening in the brain during these incidents that leads to Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s disease won’t kill you.

Alzheimer’s is, in fact, a fatal disease. It first destroys brain cells that assist with memory functions, but over time the damage will spread to parts of the brain that control essential bodily functions. It can be hard to attribute death to Alzheimer’s disease, however. Many Alzheimer’s patients, due to their age, are experiencing a number of health issues. It is likely that several different problems contribute to the actual cause of death.