I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’d rather die right on the spot than get Alzheimer’s. The beginning stages would frighten me more than being diagnosed with cancer. At least I could take action against many kinds of cancers. Alzheimer’s sneaks up, attacks and takes over your mind. I recoil seeing people in nursing homes with the disease because I don’t know if they know what’s going on. What if they do, but are trapped in their own minds?
It was exciting to see the front page headline in The New York Times today: “Vast Gene Study Yields Insights On Alzheimer’s.” The discovery of at least five genes provides “intriguing new clues to why the disease strikes and how it progresses,” the article states. Studies that analyzed the genes of more than 50,000 people in the United States and Europe “leave little doubt that five genes make the disease more likely in the elderly and have something important to reveal about the disease’s progress. They may also lead to ways to delay its onset or slow its progress,” the article continues.
These new genes double the number involved in Alzheimer’s, which gives scientists additional avenues to explore. Although each of the genes increases a person’s risk of getting the disease by 10 to 15 percent—and therefore can’t be used to decide if a person is likely to develop Alzheimer’s—they can help scientists to understand the disease and develop new therapies.
One of the 10 Alzheimer’s genes, APOE, was discovered in 1995 and greatly increases risk for the disease: by 400 percent if someone inherits a copy from one parent and by 1,000 percent if from both parents. Having this gene or any other gene doesn’t mean you’ll get Alzheimer’s, but increases your risk.
I am not interested in finding out if I have that ghastly gene, or any others, but I hope the scientists hurry up and find out how to stop it in its tracks.