Dispelling Alzheimer’s myths

Alzheimer’s is a fairly well known illness, but there is a lot of misinformation as to what causes it, how successful treatment can be and other facets. Because there’s a lot we don’t know, people often look for answers that research doesn’t back up.

The Alzheimer’s Association shared a number of the most common myths and the actual facts behind those myths.

Myth: Drinking out of aluminum cans can cause Alzheimer’s

About 50 years ago, Americans looked at aluminum exposure as a possible cause of Alzheimer’s. This suspicion made people worry about pots, pans and soda cans as well as antiperspirants and certain antacids. Studies have not confirmed any of these suspicions, and scientists today are looking at other possible causes of the disease.

Myth: Treatments are available that stop the progression of Alzheimer’s

Sadly, there are no such treatments. Alzheimer’s destroys the brain cells and is always fatal, and scientists have not yet found a way to even slow the disease long-term. The FDA has approved drugs that seem to temporarily slow the symptoms for a few months for about half the individuals who need them.

Myth: Aspartame causes memory loss

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used in a number of products and sold on its own under brand names like Nutrasweet and Equal. The Food and Drug Administration approved its use in 1996, since that time, a number of concerns have been raised about its safety for human consumption. However, there is no scientific evidence backing up concerns that aspartame use is related to memory loss or other symptoms of dementia.

Myth: Silver dental fillings increase the risk of Alzheimer’s

The concern about this arose because silver fillings are less than half silver; they are mostly mercury, which is a heavy metal that can be toxic in certain forms. However, the FDA, the World Health Organization and other public health organizations say there is no relationship between silver amalgam fillings and Alzheimer’s.

Myth: Vaccines increase the risk of Alzheimer’s

This idea, put forward by a now-discredited doctor, has been shown to be false. On the contrary, a number of studies show regular vaccinations, including tetanus, diphtheria, polio and even an annual flu shot not only contribute to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s but contribute to greater overall health.