Contradictory Studies: What Do We Believe?

  • Here’s a mind-bender folks. I very recently wrote about an article published in Scientific American titled, Alzheimer's Prevention Strategies Remain an Elusive Challenge, which stated, “In late April a panel of experts convened by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including gerontologists, nutritionists, neurologists and geneticists, found that various postulated approaches to prevention, ranging from use of prescription drugs, dietary supplements and avoidance of toxins, have ‘no evidence considered to be of even moderate scientific quality' to back recommendations that these steps can be used to stop the onset of the disease."

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    Shortly after that, I ran across an article published on titled, “Healthy diet could slow or reverse early effects of Alzheimer’s Disease.”
    This study concentrates on information that diets rich in methionine, which is an amino acid typically found in red meats, fish, beans, eggs, garlic, lentils, onions, yogurt and seeds could lead to a greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease.


    The researchers wanted to know in a follow up study, “if for whatever reason, you had made bad choices in your diet, is there a chance you can slow down or even reverse the disease or is it too late — that there is nothing you could do.”

    This study was conducted with rats. The details of this study will appeal to a scientist and the article is linked directly here for reference, but to cut to the chase, some mice were fed a methionine rich diet, and these mice showed signs of mild cognitive problems. When the diet was changed, the mice showed cognitive improvement.

    I had to sigh when I saw these contradictions, but I’ve been following studies long enough to know that contradictions are the name of the game. That these two articles showed up so close together is rather unusual, but then, why not? That's the nature of studies.


    There is so much unknown about Alzheimer’s disease. Are better educated people less apt to get the disease or do they just cover better? Are people who keep in shape physically and mentally better able to avoid the disease? Do mental gymnastics work? How about Omega 3 fatty acids?

    I’ve written about studies on all of these issues and more. Do you know what? Contradictions aside, it’s okay. This is evidence that studies continue to be conducted. More about the causes, and perhaps the prevention and or cure of Alzheimer's will gradually become clear. What works for one person, studies with mice aside, may or may not work for another. Genetics come into play. Likely things we know nothing about now will also become apparent.

    My take is that we need to do everything we can, without becoming obsessed, to remain healthy. Who knows, a study may find that obsession about Alzheimer’s may cause Alzheimer’s, so we need to use common sense. A decent diet, perhaps some supplements, and active body and mind – these things certainly are good for our overall health. By trying to stay healthy overall, we are not likely to find that we did our bodies any harm, and we may prevent a heart attack or stroke while practicing good, healthy habits.


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    If, in the end, we prevent Alzheimer’s, we may or may not know that we did. But good for us! Meanwhile, I’ll keep following studies, because I’m interested. I just need to be careful not to become obsessed.

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Published On: June 12, 2010