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Alzheimer’s Disease: the Shaky State of Medical Knowledge
Medical research is usually conducted by academic staff at universities or by drug companies, both of which emphasize studies that will enhance academic or job promotion and money (profit). The drug companies pay for a large part of the university and faculty research, and expect positive results on the kinds of research done (usually proprietary drugs to enhance the drug companies’ profits). This is widely known, and some would say that this is a major conflict of interest.
The federal government’s medical research arm (NIH) depends on the conclusions of its own scientists, but also on findings from the academic and drug company researchers. From the opinions of these private and public scientists the NIH formulates broad conclusions, which it then posts on its website for the public, describing it as “the truth.” Unfortunately, it is far from the whole truth.
The federal government’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), which claims to do “rigorous scientific investigation,” fails frequently to deliver on its promise. Its advice on Alzheimer’s Disease prevention or treatment (e.g., dismissing the benefits of such natural agents as fish oil or vitamins) is sometimes based on faulty research, and often ignores most of the research that is contradictory to its assumptions. This is called “cherry picking,” and is fairly common in published research. It is not “rigorous scientific investigation.” On its website, the NCCIH dismisses much of the evidence supporting nutrients and vitamins by quoting its own research, or university-based or drug company-based research, selecting out evidence it doesn’t like or doesn’t believe (faith-based science), and by quoting doctor lobby-groups such as the AMA (American Medical Association) that have vested interests in maintaining the status quo and their relationships with the academic universities, the drug companies, and the NIH. This is known.
It’s also noteworthy that most drugs are developed from plants: the drug company takes a small part of a plant chemical, changes its molecular structure slightly, and then patents it so it can charge lots of money. The plant itself contains a combination of chemicals that together work better than the single isolated chemical the drug company alters to patent, and without the side-effects of the drug. The problem is that the plants in their combined natural state don’t make money for the drug company. And the FDA works closely to eliminate competition for the drug companies by trying to eliminate natural products. (Reputable herb and vitamin manufacturers adhere to industry standards that are as rigorous, or more so, than those that drug companies follow. What the FDA should be focusing on is the rare, greedy manufacturer and the questionable substances imported from China and elsewhere.) The FDA gets paid millions by the drug companies for giving its permission to do clinical studies. The drug companies pass this cost on to patients. This is known.
Can you rely on any of these organizations for the whole truth about Alzheimer’s Disease?
What the Studies Really Show
You can go to the NCCIH website to read its opinion about natural approaches to Alzheimer’s Disease. But at our website, we will describe some of the studies that indicate a role for particular vitamins and nutrients in helping maintain brain health and function.
For now the best you can do is examine the evidence for what may help prevent or slow the course of AD, including the risk factors that can be changed, which we will mention. We’ll include evidence from clinical or population studies from around the world that show nutrients and vitamins, when used in the proper doses over sufficient time, can work well to prevent or slow AD.
There is nothing to prevent you from trying these at the same time you are trying whatever a doctor suggests. Sometimes the medical researchers hit on a useful prevention or remedy.
The National Alzheimer’s Disease Institute is a Project of The National Fund for Alternative Medicine.
Our goal is to help you learn about new research in effective ways to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s Disease. Sometimes new information is available, and ongoing studies may ultimately find a safe cure. Meanwhile, educate yourself and take measures to minimize your risk. We’ll show you how.