According to Dictionary.com, a myth is defined as an unproved or false collective belief that is used to justify a social institution. Myths, rumors, tall tales — whatever you want to call them — exist with regards to just about every subject. They are certainly plentiful when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease. There are several myths that are…well…they’re doozies. So, let’s take a moment to address the misinformation about Alzheimer’s and get the facts straight so these rumors can be stopped dead in their tracks.
Common Myths, Rumors & Tall Tales
Memory loss is a natural part of aging
Many of us feel as though our memory isn’t as sharp as we age, but then again, was it sharper when we were young? I remember getting in trouble for ‘forgetting’ to do things all the time when I was a kid/teenager. Maybe our lives were just less complicated when we were young; therefore, we feel as though we had a better memory. The point is – scientists have not been able to prove memory declines with age, but they have proven severe memory loss is a symptom of serious illness.
Alzheimer’s is not fatal
There may not be a timeline handed down with the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s like some other diseases, but the reality is that there is no cure, and therefore no survivors. Alzheimer’s destroys brain cells causing memory changes, erratic behavior and loss of body functions. It may be slow, but it takes away a person’s identity and ability to connect with others. It is quite fatal.
Only older people develop Alzheimer’s
There are approximately 200,000 people under the age of 65 with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. That may be a small chunk compared to the 5.2 million over the age of 65 with Alzheimer’s, but it’s not so small when you think of it as the entire town of Modesto, CA or Boise, ID — plus it just goes to show that Alzheimer’s can strike people in their 30s, 40s and 50s.
Aluminum cans and pots lead to Alzheimer’s
Drinking from aluminum cans or cooking with aluminum pots and pans as well as trace amounts of aluminum found in antiperspirants and antacids created a concern in the 60s and 70s. However, studies have failed to confirm that exposure to aluminum through everyday sources leads to Alzheimer’s.
Aspartame causes memory loss
This artificial sweetener found in NutraSweet and Equal has been rumored to be linked to all kinds of diseases since it was approved by the FDA and put on the market in 1996. According to the FDA, as of May 2006, there has not been any scientific evidence to prove otherwise based on more than 100 laboratory and clinical studies.
Flu Shots increase risk of Alzheimer’s
This theory was proposed by a U.S. doctor whose license was suspended by the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners. The theory has been disproved by several medical journals. In fact, Canadian Medical Journal and JAMA claim the exact opposite, suggesting that annual flu shots for older adults were associated with a reduced risk of death from all causes, AND that older adults who were vaccinated against diphtheria or tetanus, polio and influenza seemed to have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those not receiving these vaccinations.
Silver dental fillings increase Alzheimer’s risk
Made of 50% mercury, 35% silver and 15% tin, silver fillings became a concern due to the mercury content that is known to be toxic to the brain and other organs. However, multiple studies show no link or direct evidence that mercury or silver fillings cause Alzheimer’s.
Certain treatments stop the progression of Alzheimer’s
Unfortunately, there currently is no treatment to cure, delay or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s. There are certain FDA-approved drugs that temporarily slow the symptoms for approximately 6-12 months and are effective for about half the people who take them.
For more information, please visit: www.alz.org
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