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What Causes Alzheimer’s? The Top 5 Questions Answered

There are so many questions regarding this disease, including what causes Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s; one of the most feared brain diseases in the world. More than 3 million cases are diagnosed every year in the US alone and more than 5.7 million are living with this incurable disease at any given time.

The top 5 questions people ask about Alzheimer’s disease are answered right here.

Alzheimer’s Disease Definition

Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that causes problems with memory, behavior, and thinking. The disease progresses over time, eventually becoming so severe that patients need full-time care.

Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms

As we age, everything about our bodies change, including our brains. Most people will have some difficulty remembering a certain thing at one time or another, but severe memory loss regarding normal, everyday actions are signs that the cells in the brain are dying.

Alzheimer’s disease symptoms change as the disease progresses. Typical symptoms include:

  • Difficulty remembering new information
  • Disorientation
  • Mood or behavior changes
  • Increasing episodes of confusion regarding time, places, people, and events
  • Suspicions and paranoia
  • Difficulty walking, speaking, sitting up, and/or swallowing

People who suffer from Alzheimer’s often don’t realize they have a problem. Friends and close family members will be the first to notice changes and abnormal memory issues.

what causes Alzheimer's MRI Scans

What Causes Alzheimer’s? Frequently Asked Questions

What causes Alzheimer’s? There is currently no cure, but science and studies are making new advances in this area, including pinpointing what causes Alzheimer’s. Let’s talk about what researchers and scientists know and what they don’t know regarding the causes of this brain-robbing disease.

what causes Alzheimer's Genes

1. Do Your Genes Determine Who Will Develop Alzheimer’s?

Your genes determine a great many things about your physical traits, such as your height, hair, and eye color, and whether you are more likely to develop certain diseases, including Alzheimer’s.

Researchers have found 3 genes that can increase your risk of developing this disease. Even having all 3 genes, however, is not a 100% guarantee that you WILL develop Alzheimer’s, it only increases your risk.

There are two types of Alzheimer’s; early-onset (occurring before age 60) and late-onset, which is the most common type, occurring after age 65.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s has been linked to three mutant genes and if you inherit one of these, you most likely will develop Alzheimer’s symptoms before age 65.

Some persons who have developed early-onset Alzheimer’s do not have any of these 3 mutant genes, however, which means that there must be other causes or genes that scientists have yet to identify.

what causes Alzheimer's Drinking from cans

2. Does Aluminum (Such as Drinking from Aluminum Cans) Cause Alzheimer’s?

In the early 1970’s, autopsies on Alzheimer’s patients found that some of them had higher than normal accumulations of aluminum, leading people to believe that everyday items, such as soda cans, deodorants, and aluminum cookware were responsible. Over the next 5 decades, numerous studies have failed to find any link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s.

what causes Alzheimer's sweeteners

3. Do Artificial Sweeteners Cause Alzheimer’s?

The answer here is unknown. While some studies have found no link between dementia and Alzheimer’s, a recent study found that those who drank large amounts of diet soda had an increased risk of both dementia and stroke.

The problem with this study was that it involved only a questionnaire, which means that it cannot establish cause and effect. This study was also limited in that it only looked at diet sodas and not other foods or drinks that contain artificial sweeteners.

We should also keep in mind that Alzheimer’s has been around far longer than artificial sweeteners, so there must be other causes that are still unknown.

what causes Alzheimer's metal fillings

4. Do Metal (Silver Colored) Dental Fillings Lead to Alzheimer’s?

Silver colored dental fillings are a mixture of several metals, usually tin, silver, and mercury. Of course, in large amounts, mercury is toxic, but there are no studies or evidence that these types of dental fillings increase the risk of or are the cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

Many websites that push this type of misinformation usually have products to sell or advertisers that are more interested in clicks than legitimate information.

what causes Alzheimer's flu shots

5. Do Flu Shots or Other Vaccinations Increase the Risk or Cause Alzheimer’s?

There is no evidence that flu shots or other types of vaccinations cause or increase the risk of developing dementia. In fact, studies have found the opposite to be true.

This urban legend began about 8 years ago when a talk show guest blurted out that person’s who get flu vaccinations for more than 5 years in a row have ten times the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. The guest has no medical training and appeared to get this information from a conference held in 1997. Studies done since then have proven this statement not only untrue but found that vaccinations, including the influenza vaccination, offered some protection from developing Alzheimer’s.

What Scientists Know About What Causes Alzheimer’s?

Scientists don’t have a solid answer for exactly what causes Alzheimer’s. It is known that amyloid plaque builds up in the brain, but the reason for this, and how to prevent the process for occurring, is unknown.

While researchers have focused for many years on the “brain problem”, a new study involving mice has found that amyloid plaque may start elsewhere in the body and travel to the brain, thus making this a problem within the body, rather than within the brain. 

Other studies point to a high-fat, high sugar diet as a possible cause, since this type of diet, even when consumed for a short period of time, removes a compound that clears the brain of these type of plaque deposits.

It has also been noted that those with Alzheimer’s rarely have only brain issues related to Alzheimer’s. Vascular issues, including hardening of the arteries, or mini-strokes have also been present. Vascular issues mean reduced oxygen via reduced blood flow to the brain. Alzheimer’s victims also tend to have chronic, widespread inflammation.

In Conclusion

Most researchers believe that the development of Alzheimer’s is a multi-faceted problem involving genes, diet, environmental factors, and other health problems in the body such as high blood pressure and obesity.

Research continues to determine the root cause(s) of all forms of dementia, especially Alzheimer’s, with the hope that we will one day be able to wipe out this disease from the memory of mankind.

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