We’ve Known How to Combat Dementia For Years — We’re Just Not Listening
Reprinted from Kyle Fuller in Medium July 17,2020
We’re still waiting for that shiny pill to cure us. What if we never find it?
For years, I researched in and out of the lab. I took classes about the brain and dementia. I read neuroscience books in my leisure time. I consumed every bit of information the field offered on cognitive decline, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and similar diseases. From the vagus nerve to cytokines gone wrong to demyelination, I scoured every potential source of memory loss.
And everything I read, in one way or another, pointed back to the same perpetrator: stress.
“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.” — George Burns, 1896–1996
There are many contributors to dementia: environmental factors, health risks, neurological changes, and toxins in the body. Genetics plays a role, but in all but the most extreme cases, there’s not a simple gene that codes for dementia. As I researched these symptoms and biomarkers, the trail almost always led me back to physical or psycho-emotional stress. But in my mind, the answer had to be more complicated.
In 2010, researchers concluded that chronic stress significantly increased women’s likelihood of developing dementia. In 2013, researchers found that chronic stress quickens the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. In 2017, a meta-analysis pointed to stress as a likely contributor to dementia. In 2017, another study successfully used measures of stress to predict dementia onset. These are four of countless studies supporting the same conclusion: stress significantly contributes to dementia.
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