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Tuesday 13 January 2015

Dementia and Alzheimers. Are they caused by conventional pharmaceutical drugs?

Alzheimer’s disease is the commonest of over 100 forms of dementia, a brain disorder that seriously and progressively restricts the ability to carry out normal daily functions and activities. Ultimately, dementia destroys every faculty that makes the person human. It affects the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. Dementia progressively involves mental agility, thinking speed, memory loss, language, understanding, and judgement. It affects the personality, with increasing apathy, disinterest in friends and surroundings, inability to control emotions. Ultimately, they lose control of their ability to control their own lives and functioning.

What is the cause of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia?

NHS Choices describes the causes of dementia as follows:

“Dementia is caused by gradual changes and damage in the brain. The most common causes of dementia include diseases in which the brain cells degenerate and die more quickly than they would as part of the normal ageing process. The changes usually happen because of a build-up of abnormal proteins in the brain. This damage leads to a decline in a person's mental and, sometimes, physical abilities.”

As so often, this is a physical description of what happens to the brain, not what has happened to have caused these changes to the brain. Clearly any person who develops dementia has suffered some kind of damage to the brain, the question is, what has caused the brain to lose its ability to operate normally.

Often, the main excuse for the rapid rise of dementia in recent decades has been that ‘people are living longer’, and that dementia is ‘a normal part of ageing’. There are three reasons to question whether this is an adequate or viable explanation.

  • First, many people live to advanced old age without suffering any noticeable of dementia. 
  • Second, many people are now contracting dementia in their 30’s and 40’s, what the conventional medical establishment calls ‘early onset dementia’.
  • Third, the epidemic rise of dementia, in all its many forms, far outstrips any rise in ageing demographic trends.
History and facts about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

It is just over 100 years ago that neurologist, Alois Alzheimer first described this disease. His patient was a woman who developed dementia in her 50s and died in 1906. Now Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, and it is estimated that 24 million people around the world suffer it. By 2040 it has been projected  by Alzheimer’s Disease International, that there will be some 81 million sufferers throughout the world, with much of the incidence being in the 'developed' world, that is, that part of the world that consumes most conventional medical drugs.

The incidence of Alzheimer’s, and dementia generally, has increased rapidly, particularly over the last 50 to 60 years.  A report published in 2006 by the Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI), mentioned in the Lancet (17 December 2005), calculated that there was a new case of dementia every seven seconds, and predicted that, worldwide, dementia cases are expected to double every 20 years. They estimated that over 24 million people are living with dementia, and 4.6 million new cases are diagnosed each year. There are 4.8 million in Western Europe and 3.4 million in North America. The ADI chairman is reported as calling the situation "a ticking time bomb”.

The Alzheimer's Society published a major study on the social and economic impact of dementia in the UK in February 2007, and again in November 2014. Both were undertaken by King's College London, and the London School of Economics. They provided the most detailed information about the prevalence and impact of dementia in the UK. These are some of the Dementia UK 2014 findings (the report can be downloaded from here).
  • One in every 79 (1.3%) of the entire UK population, and 1 in every 14 of the population aged 65 years and over has dementia. The majority of these are women,
  • At the current estimated rate of prevalence, there will be 850,000 people with dementia in the UK in 2015. (In 2007 the estimate was 700,000).
  • The total number of people with dementia in the UK is forecast to increase to over 1 million by 2025 and over 2 million by 2051. 
  • There are now 42,325 people with early-onset dementia (onset before the age of 65 years) and 773,502 people with late-onset dementia (onset after the age of 65 years) in the UK. (In 2007 the figure given was 15,000 for early onset).
  • In total, 311,730 people with dementia in the UK are living in care homes, of whom 180,500 are living in residential care and 131,230 in nursing homes. 
  • As in 2007, nearly two-thirds (62%) of all people with dementia in the UK, 505,813 in total, have Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), known to be the most common form of dementia. 
  • For those with dementia aged over 60 years, an estimated 55% have mild dementia, 32% have moderate dementia and 12% have severe dementia.
  • Among people with late-onset dementia, 311,730 (38.7%) are living in care homes (either residential care or nursing homes) and 493,639 (61.3%) are living in the community. 
  • The total cost of dementia to society in the UK is £26.3 billion, with an average cost of £32,250 per person. (The total cost figure in 2007 was £17 billion).
  • Family it was noted that carers bear the main cost, and provide the most care for people with dementia.

Pharmaceutical drugs that can cause Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

The cause of this epidemic, like so many others, is often said by conventional doctors to be ‘unknown’. The common causes given are factors related to an ageing population, genetics and family history, and life style factors such as smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. 

None of these seem sufficient to explain the extraordinary rise in dementia, from 1 in 1906 to the huge numbers outlined above.

The magazine ‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You’ (WDDTY) in October 2015 stated that”
“Evidence is emerging that a large coterie of drugs for conditions such as high cholesterol, depression and insomnia can all bring on dementia”

The self-published book by Grace E Jackson, called ‘Drug Induced Dementia - a perfect crime’ takes us through, and catalogues the vast amount of scientific evidence that conventional medical drugs are the primary cause of all forms of dementia, which has certainly become one of the more rampant epidemic conditions of our time.

Anyone who is concerned about contracting Alzheimer’s Disease, and anyone who is caring for someone diagnosed with dementia should read this book.

Dementia is almost certainly an epidemic caused, to a considerable extent, by the increased consumption of pharmaceutical drugs during the last 100 years. The rise in pharmaceutical drug taking has been reflected and mirrored by the rise of dementia. And the global incidence of dementia also reflects the amount of drugs consumed in different countries.

Aluminium and Mercury
The association of aluminium and mercury with dementia is well established, and rarely challenged now. In modern society we have increased our contact with these  poisonous substances. This would include contract through dental amalgam filling, a mercury based compound placed routinely in our teeth, in a wet environment that leeches this poison into our bodies, close to our brain). 

And both these metals can, of course, be found as an ingredient in most, if not all vaccines. These vaccines are usually injected directly into our bloodstreams!

The Influenza Vaccine
Dr Hugh Fudenberg, MD, one of the world's leading immuno-geneticists, has found that people who have had 5 consecutive ‘flu vaccinations between 1970 and 1980 (the years he studied) the chance of getting Alzheimer's Disease was 10 times higher than if he/she had one, 2 or no shots. Dr. Fudenberg said that this was due to the mercury and aluminium elements in ‘flu vaccinations, and that the gradual mercury and aluminium build-up in the brain causes cognitive dysfunction. (Hugh Fudenberg, MD, is Founder and Director of Research, Neuro lmmuno Therapeutic Research Foundation, and this information came from transcribed notes of his speech at the NVIC International Vaccine Conference, Arlington, VA September, 1997).

Dr Haley, in NeuroReport, 12(4): 733-737, 2001, said this about the association between mercury and Alzheimer’s disease.
  “Seven of the characteristic markers that we look for to distinguish Alzheimer’s disease can be produced in normal brain tissues, or cultures of neurons, by the addition of extremely low levels of mercury. In addition, research has shown that Alzheimer’s diseased patients have at least 3 times higher blood levels of mercury than controls. How much more research is necessary before the appropriate regulatory bodies respond with restrictions on the use of mercury-leaking dental amalgam fillings and ALL vaccines?”

Antidepressant drugs
Antidepressant drugs have been linked with dementia. WDDTY (Oct 2015) in its article ‘The Damaged Brain’ says that antidepressants appear to target the brain’s white matter, causing damage and functional impairment. It quotes four studies (Stroke, 2008; 39:857-862, ProcNatlAcadSciUSA, 2003;100:1387-92, AmJPathol, 20012; 158: 453-68, JAffectDisord, 2009;117:24-29) that “have found a greater incidence of dementia among populations using antidepressants.”

“the rate of developing dementia was increased compared to the rate among persons unexposed to antidepressants. Nevertheless, the rate of dementia changed over time; thus during the initial prescription periods the rate increased with the number of prescriptions”.

The study went on to suggest that long-term treatment with antidepressants “was associated with a reduction in the rate of dementia”. This is an amazing suggestion, that anyone who suffers dementia from taking antidepressant drugs might consider that them ‘long-term’! However, the rate of reduction in dementia was “not to the same level as the rate for the general population.”

Antipsychotic drugs
WDDTY (Oct 2015) also outlines the known links between dementia and antipsychotic drugs like Clozaril, Zyprexa, Risperdal and Seroquel. Again it highlights. Two of these (IntJGeriatrPsychiaatry 2005; 20: 872-5, AlzheimerDisAssocDisord, 1994;8: 2011; 211-27) focused on autopsy studies which showed that those who had taken antipsychotic drugs showed evidence of brain deterioration “suggestive of Alzheimer’s, or some other form of dementia”., both indicating that taking antipsychotics more than doubled the patients chances of having dementia.

Another study (JNeurolNeurosurgPsychiatry, 2007; 78:233-9) found that taking an antipsychotic drug alongside an antidepressant quadrupled the patients’ chances of having dementia.

One UK study (LancetNeurol, 2009; 8: 151-7) found that antipsychotic drugs were not effective in doing what they were supposed to do, but were associated with greater cognitive decline.

And one British study (AgeAgeing, 1998; 27:181-8), which looked at every case in a dementia register for 1993-4, found that 13% had a past history of psychiatric treatment, and the use of psychiatric drugs was nearly four times greater among those who had gone on to develop dementia.

Statin drugs
WDDTY October 2015 also outlined the evidence linking dementia with Statins. These drugs, according to conventional medicine, lower cholesterol, and help to keep Alzheimer’s at bay. They do not, and as the article says, there is no evidence that it does so.

“…the lack of effectiveness of statins for treating AD was firmly established in 2009, when two reviewers independently analysed two large-scale randomised controlled trials… Their conclusion was that statins given late in life to people at risk of vascular disease won’t prevent AD or dementia”.

In fact, as the article suggests, it is now becoming clear that cholesterol has a useful role in maintaining brain function, which means that any attempt to lower cholesterol (with statins or any other drugs) has the reverse effect. Profession Yeon-Kyun Shin, who undertook this research, is quoted as saying”

“If you try to lower the cholesterol by taking medicine that is attacking the machinery of cholesterol synthesis in the liver, that medicine goes to the brain too. And then it reduces the synthesis of cholesterol, which is necessary in the brain”.

Sleeping pills and Benzodiazepine drugs
Benzodiazepine drugs, including that well-known ex-‘wonder’ drug Valium, are not only addictive, not only associated with severe long-term side effects, not only connected with many deaths, they are also connected with a 50% increased risk of dementia.

Doctors are aware of this link. The GP magazine, Pulse, published an article “Benzodiazepine use linked with development of dementia” in September 2012.

“Patients taking benzodiazepines have more than a threefold increased risk of developing dementia, shows a long-term UK epidemiological study. Welsh researchers followed more than 1,100 men over 22 years and found 9% of them took benzodiazepines regularly at some point during the study…. This level of risk remained when researchers adjusted to take account of factors such as psychological distress”.

Despite this, Benzodiazepine drugs continue to be prescribed, and are still prescribed for more than the one month limit imposed on them. They are still used as sleeping pills, especially for older people, who of course are more vulnerable to dementia.

The WDDTY (Oct 2015) confirms this picture, and points to further studies linking Benzodiazepine drugs with dementia, and explains how the link is done.

“Newer studies show this has to do with their effect on brain gangliosides. These molecules, made up of fat and sugar, are largely found in brain lipids and covering every neutron. They are essential for regulating cell growth, forming neural synapses and responding to foreign invaders like toxins and bacteria. Without gangliosides, we lose the myelin on our nerve cells, or the entire neton, and may even die”.

Anticholinergic drugs
Anticholinergic drugs are more common than you might think. Indeed, many people will be taking them without realising they fall into this category. They are prescribed to relieve many conditions, such as insomnia and sleep problems, high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic lung problems, poor digestion, tremors, muscle stiffness, weakness, anxiety and incontinence. Many are innocently available without prescription at the local chemist!

An article in the British Medical Journal (Feb 2006; 332: 455 – 459) refers to research that says doctors should be aware that anticholinergic drugs can cause confusion, memory loss and disorientation. Karen Ritchie, the author of the article, told Reuters (London) that:
"A large number of elderly people are taking medications that can mimic early dementia and are likely to be classed as having early dementia. A very large number of people with so-called early dementia have these effects due to drug consumption. The drugs they are taking are very common - they include things like antihistamines”

"What we showed is that many of the people who are classified in this way have it due to the medication they are taking, and not because they have early Alzheimer's disease".

The magazine ‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You (WDDTY) said this of the study, demonstrating how quickly dementia can develop when taking these drugs.
“In a study of 3,690 older people taking anticholinergic medication, the researchers discovered that mental functioning began to be affected within 60 days”. 

Antihistamine and allergy drugs
Antihistamines are anticholinergic drugs. The abstract of one study, published here on the PubMed website, says the following:

“Antihistamines are frequently administered to psychiatric patients for a variety of purposes. Several large studies of schizophrenics have revealed an extremely high prevalence of Alzheimer's disease neuropathology compared with that in the general population. The neuroleptic treatment of schizophrenia appears to be implicated in this phenomenon. Many of the neuroleptics have anticholinergic effects, some being antihistamines…. It is proposed here that anticholinergics, including many antihistamines, either exacerbate the Alzheimer process or possibly contribute to its etiology/pathogenesis through their effects on cerebral cholinergic systems”.

Proton-Pump Inhibitors
Proton-Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) reduce the amount of acid made by the stomach, and are used to treat acid reflux and ulcers of the stomach and the gut. The link between PPI drugs and dementia is confirmed in several studies. One study, ‘Acid inhibitors may raise risk of developing dementia’ found that they may lead to confusion, delirium and dementia, and particularly that memory problems were seen in older black people, who were chronic users.

Another study, ‘Risk of dementia in elderly patients with the use of proton pump inhibitors’ assessed the association between the use of PPIs and the risk of dementia in older people. It found that patients receiving PPI drugs had a significantly increased risk of any dementia … and Alzheimer’s disease … compared with non-users. They concluded that

“Due to the major burden of dementia on public health and the lack of curative medication, this finding is of  high interest to research on dementia and provides indication for dementia prevention”.

Yet this study, ‘Inappropriate prescribing of proton pump inhibitors in older patients: effects of an education strategy’ found that there was frequent prescribing of PPI drugs for older patients that was entirely inappropriate, and “independently associated with co-morbidities and dementia”.

Mixing drugs, or taking many drugs at the same time, as so many people now do on the instruction and advice of conventional doctors, is also implicated in causing dementia. As the WDDTY website says:

“Multiple medications - known as polypharmacy -can fog the brain, while diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension) drugs can also accelerate cognitive decline, say researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School. It’s a difficult balance to get right, say the researchers, but doctors and patients shouldn’t overdo the pharmaceutical response to hypertension and diabetes. Low blood pressure and low blood sugar are directly associated to cognitive performance”.

Perhaps in order to avoid dementia, ‘getting the balance right’ is easier than these researchers believe. Recognise the culpability of pharmaceutical drugs in creating the current epidemic of dementia, refuse to take, and look for safer alternative treatments!

Other drugs
This is not an exhaustive list of the Big Pharma drugs known to cause THE ILLNESS, but it is hopefully sufficient for anyone taking, or planning to take any pharmaceutical drug to undertake a thorough web search for possible associations.

The connection is, of course, not recognised by the Conventional Medical Establishment, although any cursory examination of the British National Formulary demonstrates that there are a large number of Big Pharma drugs that list 'confusion' as a 'side-effect'. Yet there is good evidence to connect dementia with drugs.

It should not perhaps be a surprise that powerful and toxic pharmaceutical drugs can cause dementia. The brain is the most delicate organ we have, and the most easily damaged. Certainly, anyone who has a relative or friend who has dementia, particularly in the early stages, should examine whether conventional pharmaceutical drugs have been a potential cause of dementia.