I could simply say here “Those pesky genes again” but I do have another concern.

As the article rightly says, cholesterol is involved in brain function. And people with high cholesterol are normally given cholesterol-lowering medications (statins). The article links cholesterol to Alzheimer’s but could it in fact be the statins that are causing the Alzheimer’s? People on statins do normally report side-effects of confusion, poor memory etc. So the upsurge in Alzheimer’s COULD be an effect of the upsurge in Statin use! It could be the cure rather than the disease that is causing the mental problems noted. Rather alarming

The two largest studies of Alzheimer’s disease, an international analysis of genes of more than 50,000 people, have led to the discovery of five new genes that make the disease more likely in the elderly and provide tantalizing clues about what might start Alzheimer’s and fuel its progress in a person’s brain.

The new genes add to a possible theme: genes that increase Alzheimer’s risk in the elderly tend to be involved with cholesterol and with inflammation. They also may be used to transport molecules inside cells.

For years, there have been unproven but persistent hints that cholesterol and inflammation are part of the disease process. People with high cholesterol were more likely to get Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, strokes and head injuries, which make Alzheimer’s more likely, also cause brain inflammation.

And researchers say the studies, to be published today in Nature Genetics, are so large and well done that they have little doubt that the genes really do have something important to reveal about the disease process.

“The level of evidence is very, very strong,’’ said Dr. Michael Boehnke, a professor of biostatistics at the University of Michigan who does similar studies in diabetes and bipolar disease.

But while the new genes are clearly linked to Alzheimer’s, each gene only slightly increases an individual’s risk, so they will not be used to decide if a person is likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

For instance, the new genes are nowhere near as powerful as a gene discovered in 1995, APOE, a cholesterol metabolism gene that can increase risk by 400 percent if a person inherits one copy and 1,000 percent if a person inherits a copy from each parent. In contrast, each of the new genes increases risk by no more than 10 percent to 15 percent.

“APOE is the big whopper,’’ said Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, a neurology professor at Harvard Medical School and an author of one of the papers. “It is in a class of its own.’’


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see TONGUE-TIED. Also, don’t forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here

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