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Alzheimer’s disease is the most common brain disorder that affects one’s mental ability to perform ordinary functions in daily life (dementia). It affects about five million people, and is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. The disease is associated with aging, and the risk of acquiring the disease significantly increases after the age of 70. However, although it is becoming more common, with about half of all people aged 85 and above being affected, it is not a normal part of aging.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Alzheimer’s Disease
She died of an unknown mental illness. He found unusual clumps, which are now known as amyloid plaques. Also, there were tangles of nerve fiber bundles (neurofibrillary tangles) in her brain. These are now recognized as the two main characteristics found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. A third important change is the lack of connection between nerve cells in the brain. But what causes these changes are still unclear.
What research shows is that aging is the biggest factor that increases the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Although a few people develop the condition prematurely (before age 65), most people double their risk every 5.5 years after the age of 65. Women are more likely to get it, with about two-thirds of patients being female. Genetics and family history of the disease have been considered, but not everyone who has genes or family backgrounds related to the disease develop it. Since there is yet no cure for Alzheimer’s, genetic testing is not advised.
Other factors that have been linked to Alzheimer’s include history of head trauma, cardiovascular disease, and limited formal education. Other medical conditions have also been implicated, such as Down’s syndrome, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and stroke. Still, some researchers believe that environmental toxins may have something to do with the changes that affect the brain.
Aluminum And Alzheimer’s Disease
One of the substances that has been blamed for the increase in number of people affected by Alzheimer’s disease is aluminum, a natural metal that is commonly used in everyday life. Aluminum is found in cookware, drinking water, some food products, medicines, and cosmetic products such as antiperspirant deodorants. Some studies have suggested that people who use these aluminum-containing products are more likely to get Alzheimer’s, but a direct link has not been found. Therefore, some experts have dismissed claims that exposure to aluminum is a risk factor for the disease.
Studies in rats also show that those fed with aluminum added to their standard diet had a significant increase in aluminum in the brain compared to those who did not receive the metal. Other studies also reveal that aluminum easily be absorbed in the skin. So, for some scientists, the controversy regarding the role of aluminum in Alzheimer’s disease is yet unresolved and deserves more research to establish more solid evidence.