Study Finds Fivefold Increase In Alzheimer’s Deaths: Why It Matters

JAQ'S PhotoStorage/flickr

JAQ’S PhotoStorage/flickr

By Nell Lake
Guest contributor

Consider a hypothetical 70-year-old woman; she could be your mother, your sister, your wife. Call her Margaret. She’s becoming ever-more forgetful; one day she gets lost on her way home from the grocery store. A neurologist diagnoses Alzheimer’s.

Over the next five years, Margaret’s thinking continues to decline. She speaks less, confuses words, falls often. She needs a wheelchair, becomes incontinent. No longer able to manage her care, you move her to a nursing home. A year later, the disease has spread to the part of Margaret’s brain that controls swallowing; she has difficulty eating. Because of this she “aspirates” her food — bits of it enter her lungs, and Margaret develops pneumonia. Within weeks, her lungs stop working, and Margaret dies.

Margaret’s story is a difficult one, but common. It also illustrates a conundrum: Did Margaret die of pneumonia, or Alzheimer’s?

On some level, the answer doesn’t matter much: death is death. But as a matter of public health, the answer is deeply important: funding for medical research, new treatments and ultimately, someday, a cure, tends to flow toward the most widespread and deadly diseases. That’s why a new study out this week is getting so much attention; should its findings become widely accepted, they could substantially increase the pace and effectiveness of Alzheimer’s research in the U.S.

Massive Underreporting

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Neurology, confirmed what clinicians and researchers have long assumed: Alzheimer’s deaths have been greatly underreported.

The research found that 500,000 people die each year from Alzheimer’s — more than five times the number most recently reported by the CDC. That makes Alzheimer’s the third leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer. Currently the CDC ranks Alzheimer’s sixth as a cause of mortality, with 84,000 deaths reported on death certificates.

The new report’s fuller accounting of Alzheimer’s deaths reinforces a basic but frequently overlooked fact: The illness is entirely fatal. A progressive brain disease that gradually impairs memory, reasoning and personality, Alzheimer’s eventually damages all brain functions, so that even walking, eating and breathing become impossible. Alzheimer’s kills because the brain is no longer able to keep the body alive.

Yet many people think of Alzheimer’s as something you live with — a terrible disease that severely compromises your quality of life, yes, but not truly deadly. “Because Alzheimer’s can be a slow, insidious process, which may play out over many years– sometimes even a decade or more — people often don’t realize that it is a fatal condition,” says Ronald Petersen, M.D., director of the Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

The new study’s lead author, Bryan James, agrees. “People say, ‘Oh, you’re just talking about people who died with Alzheimer’s. But they really died of some other cause,’” says James, an epidemiologist with Rush University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center. “That kind of frustrates” James and his fellow researchers, he says, “because the other cause you’re talking about” — like pneumonia, the most common immediate cause of death in Alzheimer’s patients, as in Margaret’s case — “might not have happened had they not had Alzheimer’s in the first place.”

To more adequately measure Alzheimer’s as a cause of death, James and his fellow researchers analyzed data from two groups of people — 2500 total participants — who’d agreed to annual cognitive tests, and to brain autopsy after their deaths. The scientists compared death rates between those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and those who were free of the disease. The team found that a person with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s was three to four times more likely to die within a given period than was a person of the same age who had not been diagnosed with the disease.

Using this death rate, James and his colleagues extrapolated the number of deaths caused annually by Alzheimer’s to the American population — and came up with the new, dramatically higher number the study reports.

How We Got Here: Doctors, Diagnoses And Death Certificates

Why such a disparity between the two figures? The answer is two-fold.

Alzheimer’s is under-diagnosed: As many as half of people who develop Alzheimer’s never receive diagnoses, studies have found. This is in part because strategies for determining Alzheimer’s are much less established in medical practice than are other diagnostic methods. Many doctors who aren’t trained in geriatrics or in neurology, for example, “don’t know exactly how to go about [testing],” James says. These doctors may also never refer their patients to specialists who do practice the thorough cognitive testing that can reliably identify Alzheimer’s.

Other dynamics add to the problem: Older people may avoid visiting doctors, or not have easy access to them. Petersen finds that physicians who conclude that their patients have Alzheimer’s sometimes don’t record the diagnoses in their patients’ charts; the omissions may be an effort, Petersen says, to protect patients and/or their families from painful news. Other patients and families don’t seek testing because they view declining cognitive abilities as a normal part of getting old. Dementia is not a normal sign of aging, James says, but that it is remains a fairly common myth.

Death certificate data is unreliable: Another reason for the undercounting of Alzheimer’s deaths lies in the American system for recording deaths. The CDC bases its cause-of-death counts on what clinicians report in death certificates. A doctor must certify each death and record its immediate cause. Elsewhere on the form, he or she also cites underlying conditions that contributed to this immediate cause.

Filling out death certificates is not a task that doctors relish, nor devote a lot of time to, says David Reuben, a geriatrician and researcher at UCLA. “It’s just more work for the doc,” he says. Thus death certificates, Reuben says, are “notoriously inaccurate.” This is especially true for Alzheimer’s. In the hypothetical case of Margaret, for example, a physician or nurse would very likely list pneumonia as the immediate cause of death. He or she may not mention Alzheimer’s at all — especially if the clinician on call doesn’t know Margaret, is unaware of her history, or is simply busy.

This practice, though understandable, has indirectly impeded funding for Alzheimer’s research.

Following The Money

The federal government spends on Alzheimer’s research only about a tenth what it does on cancer research. This, despite findings that Alzheimer’s costs society about as much as cancer does — some $200 billion a year. Meanwhile outcomes for cancer are improving in the U.S., due largely to better treatments. Yet deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have risen 68 percent since 2000, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

By 2050, the organization predicts, the number of people with Alzheimer’s will triple, and costs for Alzheimer’s care will reach a trillion dollars.

This new study, then, has advocates hoping that its more accurate picture of Alzheimer’s deaths will boost their arguments for funding — and change the politics of the disease by raising awareness of Alzheimer’s deadly effects. (Reuben, for one, recalls that funding for AIDS soared in the face of greater public concern.) The Alzheimer’s death-rate study, Petersen asserts, “highlights the fact that Alzheimer’s is as important, when you come to talk about mortality, as heart disease and cancer.” He and others hope that money, better treatments, even prevention, will follow.

Nell Lake, a journalist and magazine writer, wrote the new book, “The Caregivers: A Support Group’s Stories of Slow Loss, Courage And Love” in which she chronicles the lives of family caregivers over two years. She lives with her family in Western Mass.

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  • nick

    Can any half sane person really believe that the CDC is capable of under estimating 500.000 cases down to 90k ? Or that the problem is negligent clinical reporting on death certificates. if anything were true, hospital policy would be extremely strict if only for self protection re liability !

    What’s Really going on ? Can you say Massive, Aerial released, Nanodized Aluminum. ? Can you say CHEMTRAILS, VACCINES AND THE LIKE.

  • Merrilee Slaton

    If someone is unlucky enough to be in a nursing home you can bet they will exibit the signs of dementia because of all the pills they give people to make them compliant and easily controlled. I have brought several members of my family out of nursing homes taken them off all the drugs (except for maybe blood pressure things like that) and within 2-3 weeks of good healthy foods and none of these mind altering drugs they were out walking in the yard and helping in the garden and laughing and talking like a normal older person. Of course I made sure they didn’t do more than they were physically capable of but exercise and a good diet can help so much.

  • Brenda Johnson

    I don’t understand how one can be diagnosed if there is no testing. Other than the cognitive..what about the old age processing that a doctor explained to me that it if a 2 year very closely monitored to even diagnose someone w/this..On top of this they start giving older people anti-depressents, saraquel, but if taken off these a patient can carry on a normal conversation..some people forget names, but know who you are. I guess I don’t believe all this..let people age w/out the meds. not needed first before u start always saying Alzheimers..Also, when a person can tell you, if you love me so much why can’t I go home w/ you.. or yes, I know all think I am dumb..I questions some drs..

  • Skinnythia

    A good percentage of Alzheimer’s is passed in family genetics. There is a percentage that is health related, but that is overall health, the entire health, not just food. Food concerns are with overeating, as well as types of fats. Organic foods have been shown to have no more special value than plain fresh vegetables. They simply cost more. Best bet is to simply grown your own if you are so concerned about poisoned foods. One doesn’t really know what is being used in the growth process unless they grow it themselves.

  • VegasLiz

    Look into the longevity between nursing home patients and those taken care of by family….I bet you will find a BIG difference! Nursing homes are death traps!

  • Sally Harper

    I hate to say it but Alzheimers/Dementia care is becoming a huge corporate moneymaker in America! Watch out-it is coming to your town- right now they are building huge beautiful warehouses to lodge all of these people who cannot take care of themselves anymore, and charging more than the average American makes in a month to house them (3-12000 per month!). Big Pharma & hospitals on down the line make tons of money from taking care of them-it is truly a frightening epidemic! I don’t really think anyone is trying to find a cure or wants to help these people, they cannot speak for themselves anymore, so are so lost in America. My husband developed it early and is now “end-stage” at the age of 65, it is an unbelievable tragedy for everyone concerned. BTW he never did drugs and we have eaten totally organic,meatless for over 25 years, exercised regularly and no genetic history-go figure, I can’t!

    • Merrilee Slaton

      Sally I am not trying to preach anything but I just read an article about a pill that has been developed by Marta Weinstock-Rosin in Israel that is preventing the breakdown of acetylcholine stopping or halting the progress of Alzheimers. Am sure is not approved here in the US but felt I should write you and tell you about it.

  • Jen

    My Mom was 50 years old when she diagnosed with dementia and 63, when she died of, discovered after her autopsy, front temporal dementia. it is in is the rising diagnosis of young people that concerns me.

  • Jeanine Crowe

    i think it shouldn’t say “increase”–it should say “study finds correct number is 5 times larger than previously thought”

  • Dorazou

    I’d rather die of pneumonia than of Alzheimer.

  • Dorazou

    I rather die of pneunomia than of Alzheimer.

  • bob

    Most everyone here has stated many possibilities of why and how. Just like Cancer or MS. It is a disease. It is possible Genetic at some levels. Industrial foods? What are you really saying. You are commenting within most likely the US. Here in Asia and specifically where I am….there is no industrialized food products as the farmers eat what they grow. And, they have been diagnosed with Dementia. Same as Japan and other Asian Nations. It is easy to come up with conspiracy theories. However, just like AIDS and Cancer and all other life threatening diseases like A/D. It is a disease. Bottom line. FDA? Try science and the medical community and the funding! As stated in the article. Funding for Cancer is beyond that number/dollars. Same with AIDS as it is also a global issue. So is A/D not being funded…Yes, It is not and just like in the US stem cell was not funded due to religious views and power control by the R(diculous) and D(umb). My mom has it and it is not about being older or Industrialized food. Just walking outside and breathing in what you think is fresh air is not. Living longer lives does not automagically turn on a switch and deconstruct the proteins that are responsible for the brain. 40,50,60,70 and 80/90 year old people are being diagnosed. It was not really understood nor cared for until the 1970′s. So. Use facts and not conjecture nor ignorance. Once you have it affect your life. Then most of you would not comment the way you do. Help make a change. Do not over leverage your credit cards by buying all of those materialistic things. Help the world become a better place now and after you leave.

  • Dirck Benson

    When my father was suffering from dementia 15 years ago we were told that the only conclusive diagnosis for Alzheimer’s would be if amyloid plaques were found in the brain by autopsy. I suspect that autopsies were rarely performed on those who died with dementia, and thus Alzheimer’s was vastly underreported.

  • Ed Hagerty

    I have never seen so many posts from people who don’t know their backsides from a hole in the ground. Fairchild your conclusion is just as stupid. Carter fifty years ago people were called senile or in a vegetated state. Believe me DEMENTIA has been around a long time, but while there are similarities in all of the Dementias, some take on a particular twist with Alzheimer’s Disease the worst of the bunch. All Dementias are similar in the beginning, but those with Alzheimer seemed to forget the basic functions necessary for life, breathing and swallowing. The writer attributed forgetting to walk as a problem for Alzheimer’s, but those suffering from other Dementias have that problem as well. My mother had what was called Regular Dementia and from the day she was diagnosed in 2000 until she died at the age of 89 she never pushed away a plate of food. The other big thing that separates Alzheimer and the other Dementias is Memory. Alzheimer patients tend to have Excellent memories of their past as children or young adults, but they have horrible day to day memories and that’s why thy forget to breath or swallow, whereas Dementia patients are just the opposite. My mother’s memory of her past was scattered, she could remember certain things but not the whole event, but Dementia patients have excellent memories of what they did short term like out 24 to 36 hours top, My mother would read 40 pages of a book put it down and the next day pick it up and read 40 pages and put it down not remembering what she read only that she had read that book. That also explains why she never forgot about how to eat and breathe, she remembered doing it.

  • George Villa

    Geo engineering is spraying aluminum oxide in the atmosphere to block out the sun and that is why we have an explosion of Alzheimer.

  • George Villa

    Geo engineering is spraying aluminum oxide in the atmosphere to reflect the sun and that is what is causing Alzheimer. As well making our soil more alkaline.

    • TheLump

      Link? Source?

  • Justme

    I think chemical filled processed and altered foods are damaging the brain. Eating an abundance of these foods may have a negative, undetected chemical or allergic reaction in the brain, inevitably killing off healthy neurons. Neurons communicate by sending an electrical charge down the axon and across the synapse to the next neuron. Because the neurons are not physically connected, chemical messengers called neurotransmitters cross the synaptic gap to get the message to the next neuron. Communication is both electrical and chemical, so if the neurons become damaged it can’t signal the body how to function and inevitably leading to death. Plaques and tangles in the brain are two other main features of Alzheimer’s disease. The plaque consists of beta amyloid proteins, an amino acid that is toxic to the neurons. When neurons begin to die, this plaque, that consist of these degenerating neurons and clumps of the amyloid protein, will begin to build up. The body cannot break down this the build up, so they accumulate in the brain. The tangles are another form of build up that looks like tangles at the end of the lesions, over time it interferes with numerous intracellular functions. We have all this information, yet no one can figure out how to prevent it?
    Are scientist, doctors, researchers, pharmaceutical companies, Alzheimer care facilities and insurance companies benefiting from these “incurable” diseases and that is why they don’t WANT to find a cure for them?? Makes you wonder….

  • colleen murray

    I can’t imagine any disease more undignified, frightening

    • Ed Hagerty

      How more insulting can you be Colleen? My mother had what is best described as Regular Dementia, as compared to Alzheimer’s Disease. It wasn’t a sidekick of Alzheimers, but just as serious a problem. The only reason Alzheimer is getting all the press it is the largest of the Dementias.

      • colleen murray

        By “sidekicks” I meant pneumonia or whatever finally kills the patient whose underlying disease is Alzheimer’s. Obviously, there should be a lot more research funding going towards all the dementias! – mainly towards preventing them!!

      • Rosalie Dann

        ED You are just bound and determined to find offence in even the slightest comment aren’t you ? Just because Colleen didn’t name each type separately or word it to your satisfaction. Could you not just read it carefully and take the heart of what she was saying?

  • thorndyke

    I find it disturbing that doctors would KNOW that the issue is Alzheimer’s, and refuse to put that on the patient’s chart! Wouldn’t that be classified as malpractice? I can’t believe that in this day and age, that kind of misinformation would be tolerated. Heaven help the doctor that tried to do this to MY mother….!

    • Merrilee Slaton

      Years ago many Insurance Co. would not pay for medicines for people diagnosed with Alzheimers, I do don’t know why but my grandmother who had it was not officially diagnosed because of this problem.

      • thorndyke

        That’s just wrong. Why would they do that? It doesn’t make sense at all. That’s what insurance is *supposed* to be for.

  • Ray

    Adding to the reporting complications is the fact there are many dementias other than AD. My wife died of one that could not be named, and I don’t know what the death certificate said. She knew too well what was happening to her until a few weeks before the body totally failed.

  • Sarah Lassen

    I actually take issue that you used a piece of art and failed to give credit – while the photo above was taken from an individual’s flickr site (with their permission?), the actual piece of art was done by Ron Mueck, his work is rather know and popular.
    If this were a photo of Mona Lisa would you credit me if I took a photo with a cell phone camera? Here is the actual credit:

    Untitled (old woman in bed), (2000-2002) by Ron Mueck

  • sjsb

    My grandfather had Alzheimers and I could never shake the feeling that it was not somehow related to his death. I will be watching this research with interest.

  • JonFrum

    We are living longer than ever before. Cancer deaths are down. Things have never been better.
    On the other hand, there is a significant proportion of the population who are married to paranoid hypochondria. There was no ‘five-fold increase in deaths’ here. A FIVE PERCENT increase would be significant. A five hundred percent increase across a population of 300 million is simply inconceivable. No illness short of the Medieval plagues can change mortality that much that fast. It just doesn’t happen in real life.
    All that’s being done here is to re-define mortality – paperwork shuffling.
    Whether a person dies ‘of pneumonia’ or ‘of Alzheimer’s,’ dead is dead. The people who die these deaths are usually at the end of their natural lives in any case. Death is not a mistake, or a crime. It is the inevitable consequence of life. Get a grip – you’re going to die.

    • Ed Hagerty

      JonFrum did you bother to read the article? The writer wasn’t talking about a fivefold increase in deaths in the total population, but rather those who are elderly that exhibited the same traits as known patients of Alzheimers,

      • JonFrum

        Did you not bother to read the headline?

  • gayle H. Swift

    The painful truth is that Alzheimer’s leads to excruciating suffering in which far more than one’s memories are lost. In fact all aspects of being human deteriorate. My sister died of early onset Alzheimer’s. Diagnosed at 58, she exhaled her last breath at 65. In the interim, she suffered in a bubble of lost awareness–lonely, frightened and unable to communicate in spite of being surrounded by loving family, dedicated caretakers and living at home.

    • Terry Cooper

      Gayle: So sorry for your loss. It must have been devastating to see your sister suffering from such and awful disease. Thankfully, she at least had a loving family around her. That is not the case with far too many who are currently suffering he same fate, and those who will suffer in the future.

    • Ed Hagerty

      Gayle my mother died of the next largest Dementia to Alzheimer diagnosed at 80 in 2000 and died right after her 89th birthday and within a week after I whispered into her ear that if she was staying alive for my sake, I was giving her my permission to join my father in heaven and die when she was ready. I also had a cousin on my father’s side who I was working with on the Paternal side of the family’s genealogy. She had been the head of the English Department at a large high school on Long Island, NY and then like your sister she was diagnosed at age 60 in 2000 with Alzheimer’s Disease, she didn’t tell me for another three years when she emailed me one day to tell me this was the last email she was sending me because she was beginning to forget who I was. Her husband sent me a letter and some research she had last been working on after she died in 2005 at 65. I agree that Alzheimer is the worst of the Dementias as it does hit people more often at a younger age, I heard as young as 40.

      • gayle H. Swift

        Alzheimer’s is a tragedy writ large that takes a hug toll on caretakers while it destroys the quality of life of the individual with the disease. Early onset can be especially insidious because of the hit on one’s earning power while simultaneously underwriting the cost of care without benefit of medicare. We must find a way to reduce the incidence and to develop protocols that will ameliorate the symptoms. Dementia;s really are a family disease in that they actively challenge the entire family emotionally, physically and financially.

    • onyxkitteh

      My Dad is starting down that path.

      • gayle H. Swift

        Sorry to hear that. Gather as many resources as you can. It will help you and him.

      • Merrilee Slaton

        Check out an article in International Fellowship of Christians and Jews about Professor Marta Weinstock-Rosin who has developed a new drug for the treatment of Alzheimers. The article says the medicine will eventually become the Novartis Exelon Patch, the first FDA approved skin patch for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. It prevents the breakdown of a brain neural transmitter call acetycholine and stops or even halts the progess of the disease.

  • Jasmina

    I’m confused on a few points. A) How is it so hard to observe the course of the disease (Alzheimer’s), the progressive loss of basic bodily functions like swallowing and walking, still result in a death recorded as pneumonia, when the cause of the pneumonia was aspiration of food due to the loss of the ability to swallow. Does not seem like a far stretch. B) Why are doctors who are uneducated in matters regarding the geriatric population treating them? It would seem more responsible to me to acknowledge one’s own limitations in favor of doing what’s right and then address it, rather than persist in misdiagnosing or missing the diagnosis of illnesses pertinent to the geriatric community. It should be regarded as the cause of death and acknowledged when it’s present. It does no one any favors to deny it, especially concerning the resulting signs and symptoms of the illness by its very nature.

    • Erin

      To say it “does no one any favors to deny it”, largely dismisses the major part of the problem which is what payors have decided they will pay for varying diagnoses. A hospital will code a cause of death as pneumonia every time to insure they will get reimbursed for that diagnosis which is much higher than Alzheimer’s. They will code Alzheimer’s as a secondary diagnosis. As long as insurance companies and Medicare reimburse higher for any given diagnosis, that is how the hospital will code/bill. This is an area that will need to change if health care providers are going to change the way document cause of death.

  • Mike McCarthy

    I suspect industrial food is the cause, but I have only anecdotal evidence.

    • Karen Janssen

      I never have been satisfied with the denial of any link between Alzheimer’s and Mad Cow disease. In America autopsy of downer meat animals is forbidden and we know for a fact that prion disease are out there in many species of animals – even fish. Rendering plant temperatures do NOT deactivate prions and the infected protein meal is fed to other animals. Symptoms of Mad Cow don’t appear for several years and many meat animals are butchered at an early age. Symptoms are so similar it makes me uneasy.

      • Terry Cooper

        Mad Cow is more closely similar to Jacob Crutchfeld disease. Regardless, it’s an awful disease to get.

  • Teresa Fairchild

    No Vandermeer. It’s because people are living longer lives. They have to die of something, so instead of dying of measles or syphilis or some other young person’s disease people are now living long enough to die of old person’s diseases.

    • Jennifer Carter

      I think it’s more about the changes in the definition of AD. It’s a fairly recent diagnosis. Even fifty years ago, it wasn’t used the way it is now.

      • Rosalie Dann

        No, it was just called Dementia. they were written off as crazy. Even today though there are several names for or types of Dementia/Alzheimers

    • Rosalie Dann

      So explain why so many younger people are getting the beginning signs of alzheimers .

  • Vandermeer

    I suspect the root of the growing Alzheimer’s epidemic may be in the poisoned food we are being sold. Where is the FDA?

    • Rick

      Lashing out without evidence.

      • M Dane Zahorsky

        Whoa there, I wouldn’t exactly call that lashing out, and though it might not be the only reason, anyone with there eyes even halfway open can see modern industrial capitalism and subsequently corporate agg isn’t exactly doing wonders for our longterm quality of life or general well-being.

      • torr10

        Lashing out? Really? No evidence? Really? Please, go back under your rock before your multiply.

    • Matthew

      Did you even read the article? It’s not saying there’s an increase in Alzheimer’s cases. Only that they’re being reported more accurately. Which results in the appearance of a growing epidemic where really we just have the same as before, with the blame placed properly on Alzheimer’s and not pneumonia or falling or walking out into traffic because they forgot that red means stop.

      • Erica Steele

        Did you read the WHOLE article. The last paragraph states “Yet deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have risen 68 percent since 2000, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

        By 2050, the organization predicts, the number of people with Alzheimer’s will triple, and costs for Alzheimer’s care will reach a trillion dollars.”

        Clearly there is a significant rise in Alzheimer’s, and it stands to reason that it is likely related to industrialized food, and GMO’s, as those have been the major changes in food since 2000.

        • Emily

          Or the Internet, or the use of smartphones, or skinny jeans. We have had more exposure to these things too since 2000.

          • Erica Steele

            True. There are other exposures that will affect our health… toxins are everywhere. However, food and water taken in to our bodies has a much greater impact on our health than exterior exposures, and would be the most obvious first place to look for the culprit.

            Besides, skinny jeans have been around much longer than 2000! ;-)

        • Ed Hagerty

          You are clearly as dumb as dumb can be. Alzheimer’s Disease as well as the other Dementias have been around for centuries, It’s just that diagnosing those with Dementia is getting better. It’s not related to industrialized food, your stupidity is related.

          • Erica Steele

            Actually I’m more intelligent than 99% of the population. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the number of people getting Alzheimer’s has increased 68% since 2000 (and they are not talking about just the ability to diagnose). The actual number of people getting Alzheimer’s has increased by 68% since 2000.

            There have been many studies linking Alzheimer’s to the industrialized food supply. Go ahead and do some research, or better yet, have some common sense. When you mess around with the food supply, people get sick.

            But go ahead and keep eating industrialized food. Your lack of intelligence and comprehension will not be missed, when you also get Alzheimer’s.

          • TheLump

            Do you have a link I might follow?

          • Erica Steele

            Here is one linking industrialized Soy (which is 90% GMO) to Alzheimers:


            Stephanie Seff is an MIT Scientist who has been focused on the connection between chemicals in our food supply, and diseases like Alzheimer and Autism. Here is a link to some of her studies:


            A few that are particularly interesting are:


          • onyxkitteh

            I think you are right about industrialized food.

          • TheLump

            Thank you for your help.

          • Matthew

            More intelligent than 99% of the population? Now you’re just blowing hot air and losing all credibility in the same line. Congrats!

          • JRothwell

            These are people who see themself in the 99th percentile on an IQ test and think they’re smarter than everybody. My IQ test says that too, for several sections. Guess what? I’m a moron.

          • Matthew

            And, also. My grandmother died from Alzheimer’s 4 years ago. Your using this disease as an insult, regardless of how smart you think you are or how eloquent you think you’re being, Makes you a disgusting human being and one not worth the genetic material it took to make you. Wishing that disease on anyone, even in jest, is absolutely terrible and you should be ashamed of yourself you monster.

          • Erica Steele

            Matthew, You’re right, I apologize to Ed. I should never have said that, and I regretted it as soon as I posted it. I’m not a monster, or a disgusting human being, or even a dumb person. I’m just sick of people posting ignorant insults, when they really have no clue what they’re talking about.

            My mom’s mom died of Alzheimer’s, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. However, my dad’s mom and dad lived to be 102 and 103, with zero health problems. They were mentally sharp, and had no disease in their bodies when they died…. not even arthritis. They died when they chose to die.

            They accomplished this through a diet of whole, organic fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts. No meats, and very little dairy. No processed food.

            I simply want to make people aware of the role that the industrial food complex plays in the dramatic increase of diseases … diabetes, cancer, autism, alzheimers, heart disease…. these diseases are increasing yearly at record rates, and all are directly related to the industrialization of our food, and genetic modification, and chemical content (glyphosate/roundup) in our food supply. The industrial food conglomerates are killing Americans, and no amount of putting your head in the sand is going to change that.

          • Guest

            Not surprising.

          • torr10


          • CF Maloney

            Ed, why are you upset about the idea of toxins in food and water playing a part in the increase of Alzheimers?

          • CF Maloney

            The last paragraph states that the disease is UNDER-REPORTED and ON THE RISE.

          • Ed Hagerty

            Because you’re going to have to show that they have played a part first show the data. As I posted earlier, they may well affect future generations, but I don’t think those who have been diagnosed in the last 20 years or those of us who might be diagnosed in the next 20 years are affected.

          • Rosalie Dann

            With food it does NOT take generations to show up. What my grandparents ate has no bearing really on my health. If they ate healthily but I decide to live on packet food, potato chips and bottles of Coca Cola every week then I can expect my health to go down hill pretty fast. On the other hand if I decide to eat fresh fruit and vegies , from my own garden on a daily basis and some fish, home-grown chicken, and a minimum of red meats, with some nuts and seeds thrown in for good measure, as well as get a decent amount of exercise and keep my brain alert, then I can expect that I should stay relatively healthy, all things being equal. No guarantee that I WON’T get sick at some stage but a much better chance than on the first diet. And THAT’S a fact.

          • Rosalie Dann

            Really Ed ? You can state that for a FACT can you ? That increased cases of Dementia have NOTHING to do with what we eat – well you must be about the most intelligent person alive – a regular legend in your own mind – because I don’t know of ANYONE else who could state for a fact that the food we eat does not impact on our health either positively or negatively. No-one said that dementia had not been around for years but there are various causes and contributing factors , as there have been over the years. Some of which are accepted to be aluminium (in deodorants and cooking utensils) and also food, our diet – what we HABITUALLY eat, also in all probability pesticides and the like which are sprayed on crops. Add to that in some cases poor diet ( as in little of real food value) sedentary lifestyle and lack of mental stimulation which don’t help either. We are our own worst enemies oftentimes and worst of all may be allowing a big moneymaking scam like the FDA to tell us what we may or may NOT eat or use as medicines is a major mistake.

        • torr10

          You were doing so well until that last sentence. The causes of Alzheimer’s would have been affecting people long before 2000…think about it…

          • Rosalie Dann

            That’s why she said “The incidences are INCREASING” and not that they STARTED in recent times. She NEVER said that it hasn’t been around for years. I am sure that other factors came into play back years ago – poor diet, unhealthy conditions, lack of mental and physical stimulation etc.

        • Fred

          The increase is also largely demographic. The baby boomer generation is significantly larger than the GI or Silent Generations and Baby Boomers are also living longer than their parents. Combine these two factors with more accurate understanding of symptoms and you have a massive potential increase in diagnosis. This is not to say that food and other environmental issues may not be at play but they certainly wouldn’t be needed to explain most of the increase in reported cases.

        • Ed Hagerty

          I’d like to step back into this discussion, sure Erica industrialized foods and GMOs could have some impact on a lot of things including ALL forms of Dementia, but I don’t think they have affected to the degree you’re implying those that have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or the other forms of Dementia over the last 20 years nor with those of us who are 50 years of age or older.Industrialized foods and GMOs are a relatively new phenomenon. I would agree with you that those of you in your 20s, 30s or 40s and especially your children have had and will have a greater risk to be affected genetically altered foods, the jury is still out however. To me these alterations affect us in our youth and since most of us 50 and older weren’t exposed to these altered foods all our lives, if we get any form of Dementia it will be naturally or genetics.

          • Rosalie Dann

            Keep telling yourself that Ed, that’s your choice.

        • Teri

          So as the population ages ie baby boomers, so increases the numbers of people with diseases that affect the older population. HTN, Prostate Cancer, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and therefore more deaths from/or related to these disease processes. I agree with Matthew. It is reported more now. Years ago Grampa just got “confused” when he got old. Why take him to the doctor just to be told he was confused? We waited until he had an acute illness. Our elderly family members stay at home with us. Mom stayed at home so someone was always there to care for Grampa. Nowadays Dad works, Mom works, and Grampa has to go to a nursing home or assisted living, not because of his “acute illness” it is because he is confused, forgetful, occasionally violent and no one is at home to care for and redirect him so therefore it is reported.

      • Rosalie Dann

        What has that to do with Vandermeer’s question. They believe that the chemicals etc in our food contribute to alzheimers (and many other diseases ) and so do I . So why are the FDA not being made more accountable for what they allow (and for what they don’t approve) ? They have a position of great responsibility yet it seems that they are more about approving those who have most money.

    • Abe

      I also speculate on this, Vandermeer. I mean, the FDA And other food-control organizations are so corrupt that who knows what loopholes they go through to put whatever cheaper ingredient that tastes the same but has gradual damage over our bodies that we don’t know about since the damage escalates at such small rates it’s difficult to pinpoint (a weapon lawyers use for that argument). I say it’s a little bit of both, people are getting older and developing old-people problems and our diets are getting less natural by the minute.

      • Terry Cooper

        High Frictose corn syrup was allowed by the FDA under Nixon. It was after that, obesity began to crop up until it became epidemic. Also, now all corn is GMO, so all high fructose corn syrup is also GMO.

      • Chez

        does anyone else speculate the over use of STATINS being a cause of Alzheiner’s? I really think we’ve gone too far prescribing these.

        • Ellery Rose

          When my young wife rapidly showed signs, we researched and saw many case of her blood pressure medicine Lisinopril being suspect. We stopped it and monitored her blood pressure. Her blood pressure was and 2 years later still is, perfect. We wonder how many years they had been needlessly poisoning her. No doctor ever suggested trying to be off it and see. They continually said she would die without it. She still has severe and increasing dementia with no physical reason.

        • Rosalie Dann

          Not to mention the use of Aspartame and the like, under the guise of being healthy and getting rid of sugar in our food. When really it’s a poison.

    • jball49

      Wow, its the food we are eating, who would have known? Guess you should replace all the brilliant researchers working on the cause and tell them to step aside, all we have to do is get completely organic food from garden to table. Of course Alzheimer’s was discovered over a hundred years ago when most of of the things you fear are causing it were mostly non-existent but never mind that minor detail. One of the rapid inclines is due to people living to be older and biggest other one in my opinion is better diagnostic techniques and technology but even that needs vast improvement. However it doesn’t change the course of the disease at all as there are no proven ways to slow or stop progression with Alzheimer’s and the related dementias.

      • Rosalie Dann

        Get a life. They did not suggest that food was the sole cause of alzheimers, merely that it was a significant factor in the INCREASE of cases.

        • jball49

          Really???? I have a life slowly being taken AWAY from me by ALZHEIMER’S, THANK YOU. You are quite insensitive and I would HATE to be you!!

          • Rosalie Dann

            REALLY ? Did I say that ? No, I don’t believe I did – in fact …I am POSITIVE that I NEVER said that. If by that you mean that YOU actually have this disease then I am sorry for that but I would respectfully ask HOW ON EARTH would I know that? So how is that being insensitive ? I merely said “Our food is a significant factor in the increase…” being that I have an uncle with an advanced case of this horrible disease, I am my self looking at the NATURAL ways of treatment where possible, and also possible prevention. Such as eating healthier and things like coconut , which has shown some success in lessening- even reversing some of the effects. If making a comment on the probability of food being a factor is insensitive – so be it. If however there is someone else on here who might appreciate being given some options to look into for themselves – then I am happy to have said it. I don’t retract it at all. I would assume that MOST people on here either know someone with the disease or have a vested interest in doing their utmost to help to prevent themselves from getting it.

          • jball49

            So, you didn’t say “get a life”? Hmmmmmmm

          • Rosalie Dann

            As I said , am I expected to know the state of the health of each person on here YOU included ? Do YOU know MY state of health? Do you know all of the health issues that I am dealing with at the moment ? NO, that’s right , you DON’T. So bearing in mind that “Get a Life ‘ is a common throw away remark like “Get real” or ‘Use your head’, am I expected, is EVERYONE on here expected to weigh up every common little idiomatic term we use ? I might have said “Open your eyes man” and for all I know , you could have been blind …. WOW. How INSENSITIVE of me to say THAT , because SOMEONE might be blind, and if they heard that being spoken over their computer they would feel really bad. And you know what? From the way you worded your first comment I actually thought you were accusing me of SAYING that you had a life being taken away by Alzheimers, that by your lifestyle I was telling you that you were BOUND to get it. And THAT is why I said that ‘I did not say that’. Perhaps no-one on here should make any comment at all for fear of offending someone. Unless we all intend to use ONLY the correct ‘Queen’s English’ with no local idioms thrown in (Sorry that should be ‘with no usage of local idioms’ – lest there is SOMEONE on here for whom English is NOT their 1st language and they misunderstand what I mean by ‘thrown in’ when speaking of writing. Once again , lest you accuse me of being insensitive again, I am truly sorry if you indeed have Alzheimers or a variant form of this disease and I sincerely hope that you find something that can help YOU as I have heard of people having success with various things such as the coconut oil I mentioned.

          • jball49

            I get it now, You are one of the so called “trolls” everyone talks about on the Internet. Know it all and everyone else needs to get their head out of the sand. I happen to think it is HIGHLY unlikely due to the food we eat so I was answering to that but you come along and say get a life, well you get a life and quit bothering people! Now bugger off!

          • Rosalie Dann

            I get it now. YOU are one of those people who believe that having a health issue allows you to act like an ass to everyone else and get away with it and that no-one’s opinion on the subject but your own has any value. That is just crass arrogance. I don’t discount other causes of this disease and I am SURE that there are MANY other factors, however I DO happen to believe that food and the things that may be in it that SHOULDN’T be DO play a part and last time I looked THAT was not a crime. This subject has as much interest to ME as it has to you. You do NOT have the monopoly on it THANK YOU very much. By the way, I am WELL aware that I don’t know everything on this or any other subject, which is why I came on in the first place , to see if there was any helpful information.

    • Rosalie Dann

      raking in the money.