Dispelling Myths About Alzheimer's

The Alzheimer's Association dispels some of the most common myths about Alzheimer's disease, and gives you the real story.

Myth 1: Memory loss is a natural part of aging.

In the past people believed memory loss was a normal part of aging, often regarding even Alzheimer's as natural age-related decline. Experts now recognize severe memory loss as a symptom of serious illness.

Whether memory naturally declines to some extent remains an open question. Many people feel that their memory becomes less sharp as they grow older, but determining whether there is any scientific basis for this belief is a research challenge still being addressed.

Myth 2: Alzheimer's disease is not fatal.

Alzheimer's is a fatal disease. It begins with the destruction of cells in regions of the brain that are important for memory. However, the eventual loss of cells in other regions of the brain leads to the failure of other essential systems in the body. Also, because many people with Alzheimer's have other illnesses common in older age, the actual cause of death may be no single factor.

Myth 3: Drinking out of aluminum cans or cooking in aluminum pots and pans can lead to Alzheimer's disease.

Based on current research, getting rid of aluminum cans, pots, and pans will not protect you from Alzheimer's disease. The exact role (if any) of aluminum in Alz-heimer's disease is still being researched and debated. However, most researchers believe that not enough evidence exists to consider aluminum a risk factor for Alzheimer's or a cause of dementia. See our Aluminum and Alzheimer's Disease fact sheet (PDF).

Myth 4: Aspartame causes memory loss.

Several studies have been conducted on aspartame's effect on cognitive function in both animals and humans. These studies found no scientific evidence of a link between aspartame and memory loss. Aspartame was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996 for use in all foods and beverages. The sweetener, marketed as Nutrasweet® and Equal®, is made by joining two protein components, aspartic acid and phenylalanine, with 10 percent metha-nol. Methanol is widely found in fruits, vegetables and other plant foods.

Myth 5: There are treatments available to stop the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

At this time, there is no medical treatment to cure or stop the progression of Alzheimer's disease. FDA-approved drugs may temporarily improve or stabilize memory and thinking skills in some individuals.

The Alzheimer's Association, the world leader in Alzheimer research, care and support, is dedicated to finding prevention methods, treatments and an eventual cure for Alzheimer's.

24/7 Helpline: 1.800.272.3900

TDD Access: 312.335.8882

Web site: www.alz.org

E-mail: info@alz.org

Fact sheet created June 2006