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Alzheimer's 'may be infectious' and 'middle classes robbed of eight years' because of health inequalities

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines

All the papers are leading this morning on the worrying report about how Alzheimer’s could be transferred from one person to another - or as The Independent says, ‘may be infectious’.

The paper says a ‘disturbing’ study raises questions about common medical procedures, including blood transfusions and invasive dental treatment, after it showed ‘seeds’ of diseased tissue were transmissable.

Professor John Collinge, head of neurodegenerative diseases at University College London, said: ‘What we need to consider is that in addition to there being sporadic Alzheimer’s disease and inherited or familial Alzheimer’s disease, there could also be acquired forms of Alzheimer’s disease.’

However he added: ‘It’s important to emphasise that this relates to a very special situation where people have been injected essentially with extracts of human tissue. In no way are we suggesting that Alzheimer’s is a contagious disease. You cannot catch Alzheimer’s disease by living with or caring for someone with the disease.’

Elsewhere, the ‘middle classes are being robbed of eight years’ of active life because of societal inequalities, reports the Telegraph.

Ths story is based on comments form the incoming president of the World Health Association, Sir Michael Marmot, who calculated that 200,000 people a year – or 550 people a day – die prematurely in the UK because of the health gap ‘between a small elite and the rest’.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Since when did money NOT talk !!!

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  • This sensational news report could just be some people trying to detract attention from the £billions wasted on chasing the Loch Ness Prion, the "epidemic" that never was, as vCJD rates have now dropped to effectively zero.
    The much anticipated "second wave" never occurred, and there aren't even any early outlying examples to suggest an impending storm.
    So the vCJD outbreak isn't developing along the lines of the KURU epidemic, and is most likely almost completely burnt out by now.
    So this this might be just a smokescreen, put up regardless of the huge costs in money, anxiety and physical suffering that it is likely to cause.
    Bizarrely, the good prof suggests that there is no risk from blood transfusion, but that there is from dental interventions, despite the fact that the only proven iatrogenic cases of vCJD were from transfusions, and absolutely zero, in actual cases or even circumstantial evidence, from dentistry throughout the whole world, almost thirty years since the first outbreak of vCJD.
    This is just another example of the dental profession being an easy target for anybody trying to whip up a hysterical reaction.
    I think the way this evidence has been reported is grossly irresponsible and misleading.
    If only 77 of the 3000+ persons who were given pituitary extract contracted acquired CJD, and Alzheimer's can be acquired by the same route of transmission, then surely we would have a very high proportion of the other 3000 or so who didn't get CJD going down early in life with Alzheimer's?
    But he has produced no such evidence, which would be pitifully simple to glean epidemiologically, do I can only assume it doesn't exist.
    The fact that ameloid plaques turned up in the same brain samples from CJD victims could be explained by the fact that ameloids were transfused in high concentrations at the same time.
    Such proteins would almost certainly also be present in small concentrations in blood, but don't represent a risk to the recipient.
    But in these cases it was possibly the CJD itself that predisposed to their development subsequently in native plaques.
    I suspect that this hysterical hypothesising will be roundly condemned and refuted in coming days and weeks, but like in the Andrew Wakefield MMR scandal, the damage will already have been done and the legacy will cause major problems for many clinicians and their patients for decades to come.
    Audoen Healy

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  • Sorry, correction, the 3000+ figure for recipients of pituitary extract should have read 1848, but this doesn't detract from the point that many non-CJD infected survivors would surely have also succumbed to Alzheimer's if it was being simultaneously transmitted and causing "infection".
    Remember, batches infected with CJD and amyloid would not necessarily have been the same.
    Audoen

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