October 29, 2010

NYT: The Age of Alzheimer's

Anthony Russo
Along the same lines of my recent article about why life extensionists need to be concerned about neurological diseases, the New York Times has published an OpEd about how we're entering the Age of Alzheimer's. The authors, Sandra Day O'Connor, Stanley Prusiner, and Ken Dychtwald, don't mince words about the pending crisis and what needs to be done about it:
Our government is ignoring what is likely to become the single greatest threat to the health of Americans: Alzheimer’s disease, an illness that is 100 percent incurable and 100 percent fatal. It attacks rich and poor, white-collar and blue, and women and men, without regard to party. A degenerative disease, it steadily robs its victims of memory, judgment and dignity, leaves them unable to care for themselves and destroys their brain and their identity — often depleting their caregivers and families both emotionally and financially.

Starting on Jan. 1, our 79-million-strong baby boom generation will be turning 65 at the rate of one every eight seconds. That means more than 10,000 people per day, or more than four million per year, for the next 19 years facing an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Although the symptoms of this disease and other forms of dementia seldom appear before middle age, the likelihood of their appearance doubles every five years after age 65. Among people over 85 (the fastest-growing segment of the American population), dementia afflicts one in two. It is estimated that 13.5 million Americans will be stricken with Alzheimer’s by 2050 — up from five million today.

Just as President John F. Kennedy, in 1961, dedicated the United States to landing a man on the moon by the end of the decade, we must now set a goal of stopping Alzheimer’s by 2020. We must deploy sufficient resources, scientific talent and problem-solving technologies to save our collective future.


A breakthrough is possible by 2020, leading Alzheimer’s scientists agree, with a well-designed and adequately financed national strategic plan. Congress has before it legislation that would raise the annual federal investment in Alzheimer’s research to $2 billion, and require that the president designate an official whose sole job would be to develop and execute a strategy against Alzheimer’s. If lawmakers could pass this legislation in their coming lame-duck session, they would take a serious first step toward meeting the 2020 goal.
Read more.


  1. "the single greatest threat to the health of Americans: Alzheimer’s disease"

    I thought, the single greatest threat to us -- to all of us and to our health -- is climate warming ... or nuclear power ... or eating meat ... or an asteroid crash ... or a black hole from the Large Hadron Collider ...

  2. Hi George,

    Great piece. I posted a brief entry about The World Alzheimer Report 2010, in the context of SENS Foundation, recently.

    Sarah Marr
    SENS Foundation

  3. Recent studies confirm what scientists have long suspected - AD is a prion disease the same as Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (CJD) (mad cow)
    “Can Alzheimer’s be transmitted in humans through blood transfusion?

    Is Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) Contagious? Surprising Results

    Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (CJD) are the same prion disease: www.sludgevictims.com/pathogens/ALZHEIMERS-CJD-samepriondisease.pdf

    The fact that AD is an incurable, fatal, infectious prion disease which is transmissible in blood, makes the issue all the more grave because of the risk of iatrogenic transmission in medical settings (dentistry, opthamology, surgery, endoscopy, transfusions, etc.) Autoclaving does not totally inactivate prions on medical instruments. More drastic chemical and other attempts to sterilize can harm or destroy the instruments resulting in costly disposal. www.cda.org/library/cda_member/pubs/journal/jour0107/hamilton.pdf

    "No test. No cure. No foolproof disinfection. No wonder surgeons feel uneasy about prion diseases or bristle when asked about preventing "mad cow" risk."

    Human and animal prion diseases can be transmitted by blood, urine, feces, saliva, mucosa, eye fluids, etc.
    Prions in intestines and feces www.sludgevictims.com/prions-intestines-feces.html

    Chronic Wasting Disease, a prion disease epidemic killing deer and elk across the country, is transmitted by urine and feces of infected animals, and prions bound to soil from the carcasses of deceased animals. www.collegeavenuemag.com/environment/chronic-wasting-disease-on-the-rise/

    'JUST AS BSE (Mad cow Disease) is known to cause variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in humans – recent research indicates that Chronic Waste Disease (CWD) can cause fatal prion disease in people who eat deer and elk meat..




    Generation of a Novel form of Human PrPSc by Inter-species Transmission of Cervid Prions'

    The human prion is resistant to both heat and chemicals and is reported to be up to a hundred thousand times more difficult to deactivate than the animal form of infective agent which causes well known diseases in cattle, such as mad cow disease, and scrapie in sheep. " (and Chronic Wasting Disease in deer and elk)

    ["UCSC researchers find key to prion diseases") www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_12180851

    PRIONS IN HUMAN wastes Dr. Adriano Aguzzi - University of Zurich prion expert

    "Further research by the team showed that, if inflammation is induced in any excretory organ of the body, prions are excreted in whatever substance the organ excretes. "


    It is time for public agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to step up, acknowledge the prion disease epidemic, and take action to intercede to protect public health. Immediate notice to the medical community by the CDC of the AD prion risks is essential. An immediate halt must be instituted in the landspreading of prion infected sewage sludge - particularly Class A sludge "compost' which is advertised by the US EPA and waste industry as "pathogen free" and promoted for use on home vegetable gardens,

    Respectfully submitted, Helane Shields, PO Box 1133, Alton, NH 03809 hshields@worldpath.net 603-875-3842
    Prions in sewage sludge - and - Alzheimer's is a prion disease: www.sludgevictims.com/pathogens/prion.html

  4. Regarding comment by hshields

    It may very well be, that it's only me -- and, yes, very well, because I'm a little bit strange ...

    I have the attitude of never reading those massively invasive comments so obviously guided by good intentions. Something like this does not serve the commenter well, I think. Just my opinion.

    And talking about the greatest threat to the health of Americans ... I forgot to mention: AIDS and infections in hospitals.

    According to some people we are surrounded by threads over threads, and each thread is very important, if not the most important. If this would be true, doomsday would be around the next corner. Er, sorry, no, I remember history very well. The first half of the 20th century was the most terrible period in human history: two world wars, Holocaust, Killing Fields, atomic bombs, to mention only a small number of desasters. Doomsday must have happened already in the past, and we live in hell.

  5. Correction to my comment above:

    The Killing Fields happened in the *second* half of the 20th century. I did this mistake perhaps because the Red Khmer and their ideology originated in events important in the first half.


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