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The First Survivors of Alzheimer's: Genetic Combination Causes It, but Recovery Is Possible


Nearly seven million Americans live with Alzheimer's Disease.  New research shows a genetic combination – two APOE4 alleles, one from each parent – previously thought to raise the risk for developing the disease is actually more of a certainty after almost every person studied with this combination developed Alzheimer's disease. 

"So that indicates that it is not just a risk factor, but that it's a strong predictor that these individuals will develop Alzheimer's pathology," said Dr. Eliezer Masliah, Director of the Division of Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging.

An estimated two percent of the overall population carries both APOE4 genes. These patients account for one out of every six Alzheimer's patients.  

"If you have a strong family history, where a number of relatives have died with early onset Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. Masliah, "Go talk to your doctor. I think that's a good message."

Doctors generally avoid prescribing Alzheimer's patients carrying two APOE4 alleles the leading Alzheimer's drug Lequembi because they are at particularly high risk of experiencing side effects from the medication including brain bleeding and swelling.

However, it's not all bad news. Some people who inherited two APOE4 genes and began experiencing Alzheimer's symptoms were able to reverse course, thanks to epigenetics, which is a process of adopting certain lifestyle choices designed to "turn-off" or dampen the expression of problematic genes.

Julie Gregory is one such patient. Ten years ago, she began forgetting the way home from work and the names of familiar people.

"As you can imagine, I was terrified," she told CBN News, "I contemplated ending my own life. And I think prayer made me realize what I was learning from mainstream medicine just wasn't true."

She believes God led her to Alzheimer's researcher Dr. Dale Bredesen, who developed a protocol for her that involved several lifestyle changes including a mildly ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting, vitamin D supplementation, exercise, eliminating exposure to toxins such as mold, balancing her hormones and much more.  Her Alzheimer's symptoms reversed and she's maintained good cognition ever since, despite her APOE4/APOE4 genetic profile. 

Julie's story is one of seven featured in Dr. Bredesen's book, The First Survivors of Alzheimer's: How Patients Recovered Life and Hope in Their Own Words

"They gave their specific protocols because each one is personalized – here's what each person did, how they did it, and what their workarounds were," Dr. Bredesen told CBN News.

Dr. Bredesen said in addition to genetic risks, there are forty other risk factors for Alzheimer's Disease. His program involves testing for and addressing each one. 


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