Researchers are stunned, but there's growing evidence that the roots of Alzheimer's Disease could begin in childhood...
Alzheimer's Disease is one of the cruelest and most insidious of all the afflictions of aging. I've seen too many people -- including my mother -- suffer as their brains broke down before their bodies did. It's a terrible thing to witness, and I know my experience isn't unique. The only saving grace is that, eventually, those afflicted lose any sense of what's going on around them. I suppose it's a blessing to become oblivious; I can hardly imagine the heartbreak of people in the early stages who know what is happening to them and realize there's nothing they can do about it.
Medical researchers have been trying to get a handle on this for years, but it could be that every theory they've pursued so far is wrong:
Researchers at Mount Sinai Health in New York City found that several widespread viruses -- including two very common herpes viruses -- affect the behavior of genes associated with the disease.
In the same way that childhood Chicken Pox viruses remain dormant in the nervous system for decades before returning as Shingles, it appears that some viral illnesses in early life -- typical childhood "bugs" or common colds -- return to attack the brain many years later, and the tangled "plaques" found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients are the brain's attempt to defend itself. The aggressive response of the brain's immune system might produce a riskier result than the actual infection.
It's sobering to realize that a case of the sniffles back in elementary school could be the trigger for dysfunction, dementia, and death years later. These latest discoveries are important, but it must be terribly discouraging for doctors and scientists who have been working diligently for years, and now find themselves having to go back and regroup.
I hope and pray they eventually figure this thing out. I'm not a kid anymore.