Can Alzheimer’s disease spread?

It started in 2001, when, during a boring flight between New York and Frankfurt, I decided to spend hours in the sky writing a letter to my father. Among us There has always been talk about the distance – he on that metaphorical island called Cuba, and I in any part of the world except the island – prevented us from supporting him. Several hours were spent collecting thoughts, memories and questions. However, two days after my return to the old continent, a voice on my sister’s phone announced the unimaginable; She was categorical: “Dad has Alzheimer’s disease.”.

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that affects the brain, causing progressive cognitive decline. That is, patients see their memory, overall behavior, and ability to reason and communicate decrease.

In Spain we have seen examples of prominent intellectuals affected by this disease. What comes to mind today is: writer, journalist and columnist. Miguel Delibes (1920–2010)philosopher and essayist José Luis López Aranguren (1911–1996) and lexicographer Maria Moliner (1900–1981). The latter is said to have tried to continue working on his monumental work. Dictionary of Spanish language usage when the words left her, a terrible moment for which words were everything.

This disease owes its name to the German neurologist Alois Alzheimer, who first described it at the beginning of the last century. If my memory serves me correctly, I assure you that I did not Google this, the first message was made in 1906. The scientist Alzheimer observed changes in the brain of a deceased woman that are now characteristic of the disease, I will tell you about accumulation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.

Despite all the scientific research that has been done, The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease remains among the mysteries we have yet to learn from nature.. Those working in the field indicate that it is due to a combination of hereditary factors (mutations in certain genes) and environmental factors (exposure to toxic elements such as lead and aluminum).

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Between 60 and 70% of people with dementia in the world actually have Alzheimer’s disease.. This tells us that about 35 million people on the planet suffer from this disease.

But is it contagious?

In recent days, a study published by the journal Natural medicine What This can lead to some confusion if we do not engage in deep and scientific analysis. the same thing. I will try.

In the 1980s, thousands of people – mostly children – received hormonal treatments to increase their height. The injections were made from pituitary hormones from corpses. This treatment was banned in 1985 because it was associated with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a condition that causes progressive deterioration of mental function. which often progresses to dementia, involuntary muscle twitching and an unsteady gait.

About four decades later, it was described that 5 people (all under 55 years of age) who were undergoing hormonal treatment at the time developed Alzheimer’s disease or early dementia. Researchers believe that hormones were contaminated with a disease-causing protein.

Does this discovery mean Alzheimer’s disease can be transmitted?

Answer Yeah. But it should be clear that everything seems to be related to a clinical intervention that is no longer performed. In fact, according to the authors of the paper: “It is important to emphasize that in the cases described, symptoms developed after repeated exposure to contaminated growth hormone obtained from cadavers over a period of several years, and this treatment has long since ceased.”

Therefore, the disease can be transmitted under certain circumstances, but never contagious.

The truth is that there is no evidence that it can be transmitted in other contexts. For example, during daily activities or routine care. Additionally, the study, although valid, is based on a small group of people, so a larger number of patients will be needed to confirm the results.

In the end, An epistolary conversation between my father and me regarding pressing issues did not take place.R. Alzheimer’s disease had already deteriorated his cognitive abilities when I wrote that letter, which he never read. they say that He asked about me a few days before his death.. I don’t know, the ocean and the dictatorship prevented me from seeing it again.

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