The development of highly accurate and widely available genome sequencing technology has put us at a crossroads. Now, more than ever, the divergent views of nature versus nurture confront consumers wishing to be advocates for their own health. As we learn about our genetics it seems quite clear that the deterministic message about our health destiny is ringing loud and clear. More and more, the idea that we are at the mercy of our inheritance seems supported by the advancing understanding and interpretation of our individual genetic profiles.
An important message we have been espousing over the past decade centers on the importance of lifestyle choices, specifically directed to offset disease risk that may well be enhanced by genetics. This ideology centers on the notion of genetic predisposition in contrast to genetic determinism. It is this contrast that opens the door to empowerment and your health destiny.
One of the most important goals of my life is to raise the level of awareness of the importance of lifestyle choices in determining a person’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease, a disease for which there is no meaningful medical treatment. To be sure, this narrative isn’t something that mainstream medicine fully embraces. But this isn’t necessarily a surprise as the whole notion of disease prevention still remains on the back burner as far as the world of Western medicine is concerned.
But the publications showing the powerful influence of specific lifestyle choices on Alzheimer’s risk are appearing with ever-increasing frequency in the world’s most well respected scientific publications. To that point, The Journal of the American Medical Association just published a powerful report looking at the relationship between genetic predisposition for dementia and the influence of lifestyle choices. This study begins by indicating that there are genetic risks for dementia. It then describes the focus of the research being dedicated to determining how much of the genetic risk may be offset by making specific choices in terms of things like smoking, diet, physical activity and alcohol consumption. Continue reading
By anyone’s definition, we must now consider Alzheimer’s disease to be an epidemic. Alzheimer’s is a progressive degenerative neurological condition that actually has its origins decades before the initial symptoms of cognitive decline begin to appear. Unfortunately, by the time these symptoms of the disease emerge—memory loss, cognitive decline, and behavioral shifts—there is very little that can be done as, according to our most well-respected medical journals, there is currently no meaningful pharmaceutical treatment for this condition. Despite this reality, pharmaceutical companies continue to market “Alzheimer’s drugs” to the tune of some $3-4 billion annually. Continue reading