Culture

Study Suggests Sugar Could Lead to Increased Risk of Alzheimer's

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I remember visiting my uncle not long before he passed away. He was never a large man, but he was a kind one. An Assemblies of God pastor, he was a good man who did his best to raise four children in the same Christian way he’d been raised. But that wasn’t the man lying on the bed when my father and I paid him one last visit. Well, to be more accurate, we weren’t anyone he recognized. Not really.

Now, a study suggests that sugar may have played a role in his case as well as countless others throughout the nation.

Scientists in the UK have found what they believe is a link between high levels of glucose in the brain and the dreadful condition that takes people away from their families long before they pass away.

The study looked at the brains of Alzheimer’s patients after death and found that those with difficulty breaking down the sugar were the ones who showed Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Dr. Madhav Thambisetty of the National Institute of Aging said, “These findings point to a novel mechanism that could be targeted in the development of new treatments to help the brain overcome glycolysis defects in Alzheimer’s disease.

‘Thus, while we found significant abnormalities in glucose breakdown in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s, the exact reasons for these abnormalities remain to be understood.”

Through the years, numerous other culprits have been suggested as the cause of Alzheimer’s. Perhaps the most notorious suggestion was that aluminum was responsible for the disease. Yet despite years of study, no definitive link between the metal and the disease has been found. Research has often produced conflicting results, making it difficult to say that yes, aluminum causes Alzheimer’s. Even spinach has been suggested as a cause.

This one study doesn’t disprove the aluminum link either. After all, it’s just one study and even it contradicts some earlier research that found artificial sweeteners may put people at risk for brain disease.

In other words, the science is far from settled — not that science is ever really settled, despite what some former vice presidents may claim. But this is an interesting step toward a potential cure for a disease that does far more insidious things than just kill people. It robs them of their dignity, their quality of life, and their very memories.

Yes, this is kind of a personal issue, but I can only imagine what it was like for my cousins who saw it far more often than I did.