Understanding Absolute Versus Relative Risk and Study Bias

We all have a 100% absolute risk of dying from something. We also have a much smaller absolute risk of developing cancer, having a heart attack, etc.  Although small, these absolute risks accumulate as we age and often accelerate in old age.  This would explain why few children and many more older adults have heart attacks for example.  Knowing your absolute risk is important.  The trick is finding absolute risk information from the literature. Most studies don't bother mentioning the absolute risk or they (rightly) point out that absolute risk changes over time and circumstances.  That said, there really should be a database that gives absolute risk for any member of a population dropping dead from whatever your morbid curiosity has led you to try to look up.  Maybe it's out there and I just haven't found it. In the mean time you will encounter many studies that talk about RELATIVE RISK, so let's look at an example of how the same risk data can be stated as both absolute and relative.  NB - relative risk is also called hazard ratio (HR), relative risk reduction (RRR), or sometimes just risk [...]

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Alzheimer’s: The Critical Role of Dependence Receptors and Why Taking Supplements Is Such A Good Idea

Alzheimer's is often described as a disease of progressive plaque formation and of neurofibrillary tangles in the brain, but long before the first plaque forms, a little known cellular process plays a crucial role.  That process involves a discovery in 1992 of something called a dependence receptor whose role in Alzheimer's and other diseases is now fully proven, yet little known outside the high priesthood of research.  The discovery, not even 30 years ago, of the first dependence receptor pulled back the curtains on a process with profound implications for our understanding of how Alzheimer's begins and progresses.  That said, you will be forgiven if the title didn't tip you off to the groundbreaking discovery inside.  "Induction of apoptosis by the low-affinity NGF receptor" appeared in the journal Science in July 1993 and while the idea of a receptor certainly wasn't new, the manner in which this receptor functions was completely different.  Note - Even though the article was published 2 years after the breakup of the Soviet Union you still can't read it for free. Receptors before 1992 Cells constantly monitor their internal and external environments by deploying receptor [...]

Alzheimer’s By Type: Symptoms and Causes

...these classifications of Alzheimer's give patients, families, and doctors powerful information and a road map for prevention and treatment.  The days of palliative care for Alzheimer's are numbered.  Herein lies hope.

The Real Cause of Heart Disease and Stroke

Of the nine risk factors for cardiovascular disease listed above all nine are also risk factors for Alzheimer's, yes even vitamin C deficiency.

Diet & Alzheimer’s: Ketones Over Carbs or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Ketogenic Diet*

Grade: Excellent The ketogenic diet induces ketosis and that's a good thing because ketosis brings with it a raft of health benefits.  It's a diet in the sense that what you eat is important, but how much you eat isn't that important.  Also there's the whole weight loss thing, but that's more of a side note.  The importance of this diet lies in its mechanisms to prevent and possibly even treat Alzheimer's. Moving from Glycolysis to Ketosis Most diets include a high percentage of simple carbs (bread, rice, pasta, etc.).  Those carbs along with sugar (in all its forms) are quickly converted to glucose.  This glucose is stored in the liver as glycogen and the rest used by mitochondria as the substrate for making energy.  This assumes that one is not eating excessive amounts of carbs and sugar as that would produce chronic stress on the system and lead to weight gain on the way to full blown diabetes. The ketogenic diet is high in fat and has few or even zero carbs.  In response to the lack of dietary glucose, the body taps the glycogen stored in the liver [...]

Diet & Alzheimer’s: Aspirin

Aspirin changes the metabolism of omega-6 fatty acids such that more anti-inflammatory compounds are produced.  Aspirin also changes the metabolism of omega-3s such that even more anti-inflammatory compounds result. Fasting activates PPAR alpha which upregulates TFEB which results in new lysosomes in brain cells.  Lysosomes eat the misfolded proteins in cells that cause amyloid-beta plaques and tau tangles.  Aspirin appears to produce the same result without fasting.  What if we fast and take aspirin?  It stands to reason that aspirin may enhance the positive effects of fasting when it comes to brain health.

Diet and Alzheimer’s: Diet Soda

Grade: Bad Sugar is bad so how about artificial sweeteners?  When it comes to dementia you should dump that diet soda down the drain. April 2017 - Stroke (a journal published by the American Heart Association) ran a prospective cohort study using data from the Framingham Heart Study.  The researchers studied nearly 3,000 participants over the age of 45 and found that those who consumed artificially sweetened beverages were at significantly increased risk of both stroke and dementia. The two graphs below show A. Risk of all stroke types and B. Risk of all-cause dementia.  Green = zero diet sodas  /  Red = 1 to 6 per week  /  Blue = 1 or more per day The study concludes that the risk of stroke and dementia increases in each of the 10 years (left to right in the graph) for each group (Green, Red, and Blue). The graph clearly shows that the more diet sodas you consume and the longer you continue to drink them, the greater your risk of stroke and/or dementia. image source Stroke a journal of the American Heart Association Update:  September 25, 2018 Measuring Artificial Sweeteners [...]

Diet and Alzheimer’s: Olive Oil and Other Oils

The oil you drizzle on your salad or use to cook foods can have a profound effect on inflammation and in some cases specifically on brain inflammation.   Trans fats:  Also called trans fatty-acids.  Strongly correlated with systemic inflammation.  Years of research has led to policy changes that have banned and/or phased out trans fats in an increasing number of markets. Inflammatory Markers Are Positively Associated with Serum trans-Fatty Acids in an Adult American Population   Olive Oil:  Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO).  Use this at every opportunity.  This is probably a large reason the Mediterranean Diet has been shown to protect against Alzheimer's. Temple University in the U.S. found the following about EVOO: EVOO reduced inflammation in the brain EVOO improved Alzheimer's related behavioral deficits EVOO increased levels of synaptophysin, a protein found in healthy synpases EVOO reduced the levels and deposition of insoluble Aβ peptide EVOO lowered the amounts of phosphorylated tau protein EVOO activated cell autophagy EVOO also contains omega-3 fatty acids shown to be neuroprotective:  Just What Is Omega-3 The Importance of Maintaining The Correct Ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6   Canola Oil:  May contribute to Alzheimer's. The mouseheimer's study comparing memory [...]

Diet and Alzheimer’s: Dairy

Grade: Very mixed Milk, yogurt, and cheese are either bad neutral or beneficial depending on who you ask, what study they believe, and what fat content is being considered.  I've read more than I care to remember and the answer still isn't clear.  This blogger had the same conclusion in 2012 and goes into much more detail. I love nearly all dairy, so with great personal bias I will go out on a limb and say that it's probably ok to have moderate amounts of each so long as you opt for the fattest grass-fed version you can find.  Also, it's probably best to avoid skim and low fat dairy which have been linked in at least one study to Parkinson's.  


“What you do in young adulthood matters for your brain in old age.” Dr. R. Whitmer,
Kaiser Permanente

“What is good for the heart is good for the brain.”

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