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Another big benefit? Vitamin C could aid Alzheimer's patients

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What causes Alzheimer's disease? No one knows the answer. But an article published in the Journal, Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders, claims there's an important link between heart disease and Alzheimer's. The link is atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries). What amazes me is that since it's been shown vitamin C can reverse atherosclerosis in coronary arteries, why isn't anyone advocating its use in trying to prevent this catastrophic disorder?

Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Center in Oakland, Calif., and the University of Kuopio in Finland, tracked 10,000 people for 40 years. They found that high blood cholesterol was associated with a 66 per cent higher risk of Alzheimer's disease. What was more worrying was that those who had borderline levels of blood cholesterol were 52 per cent more likely to develop this disease. John Hopkins University, along with the universities of Minnesota, North Carolina and Mississippi followed 11,000 people to see how lifestyle factors such as smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes affected the brain. And how many of these Americans would be hospitalized for the treatment of dementia.

After tracking these people for 14 years, they discovered smokers were 70 per cent more likely to develop dementia than non-smokers. Those suffering from hypertension were 60 per cent more likely to develop dementia than those with normal pressure and patients with diabetes were at 50 per cent greater risk of dementia than non-diabetics. But there was no association between midlife obesity and dementia.

Dr. Alvaro Alonso, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health, said, "If we can find risk factors for dementia, maybe we can develop new treatments to prevent the risk of dementia later in life."

Alonso added post-mortem studies show the brains of patients suffering from dementia often show damage to small blood vessels. These arteries may have triggered small strokes that would eventually lead to brain damage.

Doctors normally start to treat patients with Alzheimer's and other brain disorders such as dementia when symptoms first appear. But at this point of time, it's usually a hopeless task.

Since atherosclerosis is a possible culprit in causing Alzheimer's, it's important to remember some past history about vitamin C.

Doctors invariable "pooh pooh" the value of vitamin C by saying it doesn't work for the common cold. But Linus Pauling, a two-time Nobel Prize winner, stressed for years that animals produce their own vitamin C and humans do not, and that the lack of this vitamin triggers hardening of arteries and coronary death.

Now, Dr. Sydney Bush, an English researcher, has convincing evidence Pauling was right. Bush has shown high doses of vitamin C, and the amino acid lysine, reverse atherosclerosis in retinal arteries. This is a huge finding, because if large doses of vitamin C can dissolve atherosclerosis in retinal vessels, good sense tells you it can have the same effect on coronary arteries and those in the brain.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 20, 2010 A22

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