Much mystery still surrounds Alzheimer’s disease, even though the heart-breaking ailment has been in the news for decades. Thanks to the Alzheimer’s Association, we’re going to bust eight common myths about the disease.
Myth 1: Memory loss is a natural part of aging
Reality: As people age, it’s normal to have occasional memory problems, such as forgetting the name of a person you’ve recently met. However, Alzheimer’s is more than occasional memory loss. It’s a disease that causes brain cells to malfunction and ultimately die. When this happens, an individual may forget the name of a longtime friend or what roads to take to return to a home they’ve lived in for decades.
Myth 2: Alzheimer’s disease is not fatal
Reality: Alzheimer’s disease has no survivors. It destroys brain cells and causes memory changes, erratic behaviors and loss of body functions. It slowly and painfully takes away a person’s identity, ability to connect with others, think, eat, talk, walk and find his or her way home.
Myth 3: Only older people can get Alzheimer’s
Reality: Alzheimer’s can strike people in their 30s, 40s and even 50s. This is called younger-onset Alzheimer’s. It is estimated that there are more than 5 million people living with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States. This includes 5.2 million people age 65 and older and 200,000 people younger than age 65.
Myth 4: Drinking out of aluminum cans or cooking in aluminum pots and pans can lead to Alzheimer’s disease
Reality: During the 1960s and 1970s, aluminum emerged as a possible cause of Alzheimer’s. Since then, studies have failed to confirm any role for aluminum in causing Alzheimer’s. Experts today focus on other areas of research, and few believe that everyday sources of aluminum pose any threat.
Myth 5: Aspartame causes memory loss
Reality: The artificial sweetener ““ marketed under such brand names as Nutrasweet and Equal ““ was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in all foods and beverages in 1996. According to the FDA, as of May 2006, the agency had not been presented with any scientific evidence that would lead to change its conclusions on the safety of aspartame for most people.
Myth 6: Flu shots increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease
Reality: A theory linking flu shots to a greatly increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease has been proposed by a U.S. doctor whose license was suspended by the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners. Several mainstream studies link flu shots and other vaccinations to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and overall better health.
Myth 7: Silver dental fillings increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease
Reality: According to the best available scientific evidence, there is no relationship between silver dental fillings and Alzheimer’s.
Myth 8: There are treatments available to stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease
Reality: At this time, there is no treatment to cure, delay or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. FDA-approved drugs temporarily slow worsening of symptoms for about six to 12 months, on average, for about half of the individuals who take them.