Viagra may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease — no, not a joke

viagra alzheimer's disease

Now for something completely different — a newly published peer-reviewed article shows that Viagra may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Yes, you read that right, sildenafil (brand names of Viagra or Revatio) users have a substantially lower risk of subsequent diagnoses for dementia.

And, as you know, I’m a proponent of biological plausibility — there appear to be physiological and biochemical reasons why Viagra can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

So, let’s take a look at how sildenafil works (no, it’s not about sex), the paper itself, and the plausible mechanisms that may allow it to work. And yes, I’m going to try to avoid the jokes, but you are more than welcome to place them in the comments!

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Cannabis might be detrimental to sleep — new study

cannabis sleep

It’s clear that medical claims about cannabis, like improved sleep, are often used as a strawman for the attempts to get marijuana legalized. However, contrary to the popular belief about cannabis contributing to good sleep, it might actually be detrimental according to a new peer-reviewed study.

There are many of us that think that legal restrictions against marijuana was outright ridiculous, especially when other drugs, like cigarettes and alcohol, are completely legal. But where we draw the line is trying to push a narrative that cannabis has many medical benefits — most were overexaggerated or non-existent.

Marijuana cannot treat any of the 200 or more cancers. It cannot treat nonexistent vaccine injuries. Marijuana cannot treat most neurological conditions. I could go on and on, but scientific studies of most claims about cannabis as a treatment for anything have ended up with nothing.

So let’s take a look at the claims about cannabis and sleep.

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Thanksgiving turkey and sleep — tryptophan isn’t the reason

Thanksgiving dinner

The old Thanksgiving turkey and tryptophan causing sleep myth appears every year on the fourth Thursday in November when the United States celebrates a holiday called Thanksgiving. You’ll hear about it over and over and over.

Basically, after eating mountains of food, including turkey, one of the guests at the table (fully vaccinated, of course) will pontificate about how eating turkey, which they claim is high in tryptophan, makes everyone want to sleep after the meal. 

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Inflammatory foods and dementia – there may be a link

inflammatory foods dementia

I know you want me to write about COVID-19 vaccines, but a new study seems to show a link between inflammatory foods and dementia. And I thought it might be of interest to my readers.

I’m not a big fan of nutrition studies for reasons that I’ll explain – they are generally hard to interpret, but this one might show us that foods with a higher inflammatory potential are tied to an increased risk of dementia.

Let’s take a look at what was the researchers found.

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Greater incidence of neurological issues from COVID-19 than vaccines

pexels-photo-5878516.jpeg

A new study published in a peer-reviewed journal shows that there is a greater risk of neurological complications from COVID-19 compared to vaccines. Once again, we have actual medical science data showing that the COVID-19 vaccines are much safer than the disease.

The overall safety of the COVID-19 vaccines has been established in numerous articles. After several billion doses given, there are so few safety signals, and those are generally minor and extremely rare.

This newly published article examines the risk of neurological issues between vaccinated individuals and those who contract COVID-19. And once again, we see that the COVID-19 vaccine is demonstrably safer than getting the disease.

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Severe COVID-19 and Alzheimer’s disease risk may share a genetic link

COVID-19 Alzheimer's disease

The risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and for severe COVID-19 appear to share a common genetic mechanism that is involved with the immune response to viruses. This does not mean that COVID-19 increases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, only that there appears to be a single genetic variant that increases the risk for both.

Researchers found that one genetic variant in the oligoadenylate synthetase 1 (OAS1) gene increases both the risk for AD of severe COVID-19 outcomes.

Risk for Alzheimer’s disease and susceptibility to severe COVID-19 share a common genetic mechanism involved in the immune response to viruses, according to a peer-reviewed article just published. The findings could lead to new treatment targets to slow the progression and severity of both diseases. If these findings bear out, it could suggest new drugs that could treat both diseases.

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Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis is not linked to the HPV vaccine

acute disseminated encephalomyelitis

A recent case report about a death of a 15-year-old boy from a form of acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) after receiving the quadrivalent HPV vaccine has been widely shared by anti-vaccine groups. Of course, I wanted to look into any potential link between ADEM and the HPV vaccine.

Before I start looking at the evidence, I must point out that case reports have little meaning in the hierarchy of vaccine research. To be honest, case reports, even if they’re published in high-quality journals, barely rise above anecdotes as evidence. Why? They are nothing more than a report without being able to establish causality. But most importantly, they represent an n=1 research population, which tells us little. And it doesn’t show correlation, let alone causation.

We’ve also discussed ADEM before – the tragic story of Christopher Bunch whose mother blamed the HPV vaccine for causing his ADEM.

Setting that aside, is there any evidence that shows any link (or lack of a link) between acute disseminated encephalomyelitis and the HPV vaccine? Let’s take a look at this evidence.

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FDA approval of Alzheimer’s disease drug aducanumab – Inspector General may investigate

Alzheimer's disease drug

Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first new drug, Aduhelm (aducanumab), for Alzheimer’s disease in 18 years. The new drug is manufactured by Biogen, a US-based pharmaceutical company, and if you read the news reports and social media posts, you’d think the new drug is a miracle.

Given that Alzheimer’s disease afflicts over six million Americans each year, we wanted to celebrate aducanumab as a miracle. Except, there’s really nothing to celebrate here.

The FDA ignored the advice of its own expert advisory committee, which voted overwhelmingly (eight against approval, one for, and two abstained) to not recommend the drug because, according to the FDA’s own analyses, the drug failed to show that it can do anything to treat Alzheimer’s devastating cognitive decline. Plus aducanumab costs $56,000 per year (yes, $56,000) and comes with a relatively high risk for brain swelling and bleeding.

In response to the outcry, Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock wrote a letter to the acting inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, acknowledging that there has been “significant attention and controversy” surrounding the approval of Aduhelm. In particular, Woodcock said, concerns continue to be raised about the agency’s contacts with Biogen, including “some that may have occurred outside of the formal correspondence process.”

So we have to ask why would the FDA approve this new drug for Alzheimer’s disease, even though aducanumab is expensive, has serious side effects, and probably doesn’t do anything to improve the outcomes of Alzheimer’s patients? And because the drug is so expensive and everyone will demand the drug for the disease, this could add hundreds of billions of dollars to the cost of healthcare in the USA and across the world (don’t believe for a second that this possibly worthless drug is going to cost only $5.00 in Denmark, because it won’t).

The answers to these questions are complicated, and I’ll try to explain. But I think what happened here is disturbing and tragic. And it could have implications for any new drug approved by the FDA.

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Canola oil causes Alzheimer’s disease? Dubious evidence

Canola oil causes Alzheimer's disease

Food fads make me want to scream, cry, and hide in a cabin in the mountains. MSG is safe. And high fructose corn syrup is just an awful name for sugar. And only a small number of people have a real gluten sensitivity. And now a published article has caused the internet to explode with the trope that canola oil causes Alzheimer’s disease.

This new internet meme is based on a peer-reviewed article published in a real journal. But as I have written time and again, just because an article seems like it has sterling credentials, it doesn’t mean the article is above criticism. We’ll get to this article below.

As expected, all of the usual suspects in the pseudoscience world have jumped on board with clickbait headlines like, “Scientists finally issue warning against canola oil: Study reveals it is detrimental to brain health, contributes to dementia, causes weight gain.” I always find it ironic when a pseudoscience-pushing website believes in scientists when it supports their belief.

Of course, we need to take a look at this whole issue. Here’s my spoiler alert (but please read the whole article) – there is little evidence that canola oil causes Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or dementia. You can use it safely. Continue reading “Canola oil causes Alzheimer’s disease? Dubious evidence”

Zombie pig brains – once again, internet exaggerate scientific results

I’m sure many of you read the news – scientists somehow made pig brains come back to life a few hours after the pigs died. Of course, most news sites had to produced clickbait headlines, and since most people don’t read beyond those headlines, there is a whole new mythos about these zombie pig brains. 

We’re here to correct some of that information. Hopefully, a few people will look beyond the headline to examine the science rather than fall for pseudoscientific dreck. Continue reading “Zombie pig brains – once again, internet exaggerate scientific results”