Dementia Can be "Contagious"

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Diagram of the brain of a person with Alzheimer's Disease

A diagnosis of Dementia is frightening — whether it’s the afflicted or their adult children.
Dementia (which means “madness” or “without mind” in Latin)   is a serious loss of cognitive ability in a previously unimpaired person, beyond what might be expected from normal aging. It may be static, the result of a unique global brain injury, or progressive, resulting in long-term decline due to damage or disease in the body. Although dementia is far more common in the elderly, it can occur before the age of 65, in which case it is termed “early onset dementia”.
Dementia is not a single disease, but rather a non-specific illness syndrome — a set of signs and symptoms of impaired cognition in  memory, attention, language, and problem solving. Some of the most common forms of dementia are: Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, semantic dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. Less than 10% of cases of dementia are due to causes that may presently be reversed with treatment.
A 2007 study by the National Institute of Health — the first population-based study of dementia to include people from all regions of the U.S. — found that 1 of every 7 older Americans had dementia. Specifically, 3.4 million Americans aged 71 years and older — almost 14% — have dementia, and 2.4 million of them (9.7%) have Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Is dementia contagious?
Carolyn Rosenblatt, a nurse, attorney and mediator for aging related conflicts, writes for Forbes, March 21, 2011, that Johns Hopkins and Utah State University have been researching the finding that a person is more likely to develop dementia if his/her spouse has dementia.
The Johns Hopkins recent health alert reports:

“One thousand two hundred twenty-one married couples age 65 and older were selected from the Cache County Study on Memory and Aging, a trial that began in 1995. Couples were followed for up to 12.6 years, with a median follow-up time of 3.3 years. Dementia was diagnosed in 255 of the 2,442 participants.

Individuals whose spouses were diagnosed with dementia had a six-fold greater risk of dementia, even after adjusting for other factors, than individuals whose spouses showed no signs of dementia. Husbands had a significantly higher risk of developing dementia than wives.”

What can possibly cause this?  Researchers speculate that the immense burdens of caring for a loved one with dementia, similar diets and people marrying individuals like themselves are possible reasons.
What can we do to prevent dementia?
Although the research is still unclear on this, we do know some  things that seem to be protective. These are:

  • Regular exercise for the body.
  • A Mediterranean diet — a diet low in meats (especially red meat) and high in vegetables, fruits, grains, and “good” oils, such as olive oil.
  • Stimulating exercise for the brain, not just doing crossword puzzles, but brain activities that make our brains work in an organized way — analyzing data like financial spreadsheets and  solving some aggravating problem.

So, it turns out aggravation is good for our brains! That means we regulars on FOTM, aggravated to no end over the state of America, are protected from dementia! LOL
Even the blackest cloud has a silver lining. 😉

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0 responses to “Dementia Can be "Contagious"

  1. Thanks for spreading the word on the healthy Mediterranean diet. In addition to lowered rates of dementia, it’s also linked to longer lifespan and lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer (breast, prostate, colon, and uterus).
    I’ll be surprised if Alzheimer’s turns out to be an infectious disease.

  2. Nobel Laureate Stanley Prusiner (UCSF) and other scientists say Alzheimer’s and Parkinson Diseases in humans are transmissible prion/protein misfolding diseases:
    Human prion diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, may be due to lack of USDA testing for mad cow disease (in 2010 only 34,386 cows were tested out of 37 million slaughtered)
    Prions in animal feeds are also a serious risk:
    The US Dept. of Agriculture has been covering up for years the fact that 1.9 million “downer cows” – the animals most likely to have Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) – (Mad Cow Disease) – are rendered into animal feeds and pet food every year. Only about 5000 downers in the whole United States are tested for BSE each year. Rendering does not inactivate prions.
    Livestock, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, dogs, cats, etc. are being fed the MBM (meat and bone meal) rendered remains of potentially prion infected animals.
    Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) (mad cow) has been circulating and amplifying in the US food chain since the mid 1980s when Dr. Richard Marsh proved that farmed mink were dying from Transmissible Mink Encephalopathy (TME) after being fed downer cattle.
    “Could Alzheimer’s be infectious? ”
    SEE reply posted by:
    Dr. Murray Waldman, coroner for the city of Toronto, Canada:
    “In answer to the question how would Alzheimer’s (AD) be transmitted, I have written a book “Dying For A Hamburger” that hypothesizes that AD is spread by how we in North America and Europe feed and process meat, mainly beef.
    If you study the rates of AD and its geographical distribution, you will find that rates start to soar when a country becomes meat eating (i.e. Japan and Korea in the 1960s) and rises even faster when it adopts a fast food culture (the US and Western Europe in the 50s and 60s) and remains low in vegetarian countries (India) and those without a processed meat industry or fast foods (equatorial Africa)…Murray ”
    > See VIDEO Interview –Mad Cow and Misdiagnosed Alzheimer’s Disease:
    > Interview with Dr. Colm Kelleher author of “Brain Trust:The Hidden Connection Between Mad Cow and Misdiagnosed Alzheimer’s Disease” recorded November 16, 2004. video about 1 hour long – well worth the time
    > Prion diseases (including Alzheimer’s) may also be caused by modern meat packing practices whereby ” a typical burger patty is packed with the meat and fat of 50 to 100 cattle from multiple states and two to four countries.
    > Eat two hamburgers a week — as the average American does — and in a year’s time the consumer samples a stampede: 5,200 to 10,400 cattle.”
    Human and animal prions in sewage sludge “biosolids” being being spread on home vegetable gardens and topdressed as “fertilizer” on America’s cropland, including grazing land, hay fields and dairy pastures, are putting people, livestock and wildlife at risk:
    Dr. Joel Pedersen, Prion researcher funded by US EPA and DOE,who found that sewage treatment does NOT inactivate prions, has stated:
    .” Finally, the disposal of sludge was considered to
    represent the greatest risk of spreading (prion) infectivity to other premises.”
    Helane Shields, Alton,NH


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