Can Vitamin C Stop Dementia?

What causes Alzheimer´s disease? No one knows the answer. But an article in the journal Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders claims there's an important link between heart disease and Alzheimer´s disease. The link is atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries). What amazes me is that since it's been shown that vitamin C can reverse atherosclerosis in coronary arteries, why isn't anyone advocating its use in trying to prevent this catastrophic disorder? Researchers at Kaiser Permanente 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% higher risk of Alzheimer´s disease. What was more worrying was that those who had borderline levels of blood cholesterol were 52% 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. They followed this with a look at how many of these Americans would be hospitalized for the treatment of dementia. After tracking these people for 14 years they discovered that smokers were 70% more likely to develop dementia than nonsmokers. Those suffering from hypertension were 60% more likely to develop dementia than those with normal pressure and patients with diabetes were at 50% 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 that postmortem 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 disease and other brain disorders such as dementia when symptoms first appear. But at that point, it´s usually a hopeless task. I have recently seen firsthand the insidious deterioration of a friend suffering from Alzheimer's disease. He no longer knows me and there's no therapy that will help him. The big question is whether high doses of vitamin C could• have prevented this tragedy if it had been started earlier. Since atherosclerosis is a possible culprit in causing Alzheimer's disease, it's important to remember some past history about vitamin C. Doctors invariably "pooh pooh" the value of vitamin C by saying it doesn't work For the common cold. But that isn't the point. The fact is that Linus Pauling, 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 that Pauling was right. Bush has shown that 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. And if treatment started earlier in life, vitamin C could have an immense impact on these diseases. This research should win another Nobel Prize.

Currently, I'm not aware of any studies being done on the use of vitamin C and Alzheimer´s disease. I'd also predict that none will be started as there's no money to be made selling vitamin C. But I believe cardiologists and other doctors are making a major error in not exploring the value of vitamin for more patients. I believe it prudent to keep an open mind to new ideas. Admittedly, not so open that your brains fall out and you blindly accept every new concept. But Pauling and Bush are distinguished researchers and their work deserves more respect. This September I´ll have a new website where all previous columns on vitamin C can be read.

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Dr. Gifford-Jones

Vitamin C research called 'hogwash'

What are the pleasures and frustrations of writing a medical column? The best reward is the response from readers whose health has been helped by a column. The greatest frustration is when my topics trigger a negative response from doctors who provide no scientific explanation for their opinion. Several weeks ago, I presented evidence that vitamin C in large doses, along with amino acids, could prevent heart attack. The response from one of the leading cardiologists in this country: "It´s hogwash". And yet not one cardiologist has urged that a study be done to prove this theory right or wrong. The Canadian Medical Association Journal, having previously published my opinion on controversial matters, refused to publish this article. It´s reason? There was no scientific evidence to support the use of vitamin C. How -much evidence does it need?

Fact NO.1: Dr. Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel Prize winner reported that humans, unlike animals, do not produce vitamin C. Vitamin C is needed to manufacture collagen, the mortar that holds cells together. Without good collagen, coronary artery vessels develop stress fractures and set the stage for fatal blood clots. Just like buildings collapse with faulty mortar.

Fact No.2: Dr. William Stebhens, professor of pathology at Wellington University in New Zealand, agreed that Pauling was right. That it was mechanical stress on coronary arteries that triggered heart attack.

Fact No.3: Researchers at Ulleval University Hospital in Norway reported a study that vitamin C in fruits and berries was associated with decreased atherosclerosis in carotid arteries. So if small amounts of vitamin C decrease hardening of arteries, what would larger amounts do?

Large doses

Fact No.4: Dr. Sydney Bush, a distinguished professor of optometry in England, took pictures of retinal arteries, prescribed large doses of vitamin C and a year later took more photos. The latter showed that high doses of vitamin C, along with the amino acid lysine, reversed hardening of arteries.

Fact NO.5: Critics should reflect on why humans get heart attacks and animals do not. Goats manufacture 13,000 mg of C daily and increase it to 100,000 mg if ill. Yet health authorities claim humans only need 60 mg daily! This amount keeps us from getting scurvy but does not protect us from heart attack.

I believe it's arrogance beyond belief to say that the, work of Pauling and these other scientists is hogwash.You cannot patent vitamin C, so no one can make any money from this research. Moreover, many researchers receive research grants from the manufacturers of cholesterol-lowering drugs. And medical journals rely on pharmaceutical ads for their survival. For years cholesterol-lowering drugs have become engrained in doctors' minds as the be-all and end-all for the prevention of heart attack. History has repeatedly shown that new medical ideas are fraught with trouble. Ignaz Semmelweiss proved that the washing of physicians' hands after an autopsy saved obstetrical patients from dying of infection. His colleagues said it was "hogwash" Preventive medicine is not an easy sell. But I believe it would be a great motivating factor for patients to take vitamin C (and also improve lifestyle) when a photo of their retinal arteries shows a severe blockage and the likelihood of an impending heart attack. Hopefully there are other optometrists and cardiologists in this country who, with open minds, would help to prove that vitamin C is effective in preventing coronary attack. If that's not the case, I believe history will prove they are making a huge error.

By DR. W. Gifford-Jones

Preventing Alzheimer's Food choices

Fountain of youth Maybe?

We pop vitamin C pills to fight colds, melatonin to help us sleep and green tea extract to try to lose weight and even avoid cancer. Now researchers think over-the-counter supplements might be able to stave off old age. Scientists in a McMaster University lab believe they are on the cusp of developing an antidote for aging, using antioxidants and nutrients - including green tea extract, melatonin and a host of vitamins - available in drug and health food stores.

With 30 ingredients known to tackle the key mechanisms of aging, biologist David Rollo and his team have been able to extend lifespans and keep seniors active and spry. The ingredients have little proven effectiveness on their own but, together, they seem to comprise the fountain of youth. At least, a tiny, mouse-sized fountain.


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