Can Vitamins Slow the Progression of Alzheimers Disease?
Pilot Study Completed; 40-Center Therapeutic Trial Underway
Researchers from Georgetown University Medical Centers Memory
Disorders Program have published the encouraging results of a
preliminary study and are leading a 40 center therapeutic trial to see
whether three common vitamins -- folic acid, B12 and B6 -- can slow
the progression of Alzheimers disease.
In a pilot study, published in the March /April issue of the American
Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry the Georgetown researchers -- led by
Paul S. Aisen, M.D., professor of neurology, and principal
investigator of the ongoing multi-center trial -- found that high dose
vitamins reduce levels of the amino acid homocysteine in individuals
with Alzheimers disease. Previous studies have linked homocysteine
to Alzheimers disease. Investigators at Columbia University,
University of Texas, Southwestern and University of California, Davis
also participated in the pilot study.
"Individuals with Alzheimers disease have higher levels of
homocysteine than people of similar age who do not have the disease,"
said Dr. Aisen. "In our vitamin pilot study we have demonstrated that
we are able to reduce levels of homocysteine using a vitamin regimen
that is both safe and inexpensive. Now we are conducting a
therapeutic trial to determine whether use of the vitamins folic acid,
B12 and B6 to lower homocysteine level has a favorable impact on the
course of the disease."
The multicenter vitamin study, known as Vital (VITamins to Slow
Alzheimers Disease), funded by the National Institute on Aging, has
just begun recruiting patients across the country. Four hundred
individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimers disease will be randomly
assigned to receive vitamins or placebos. An assessment of their
cognitive function -- memory, thinking and language -- will be made to
determine the progress of their disease during the course of 18
Dr. Aisen, who designed and oversees VITAL, views the recently
published pilot study as the first step in the development of a
potentially important way of slowing the course of Alzheimers
disease. But he cautions, "We are not suggesting that people go out
and take high doses of these vitamins. There are possible downsides,
including peripheral nerve damage. The multi-site therapeutic trial
will show us whether high doses of folic acid, B12 and B6 can indeed
slow down the progression of Alzheimers disease and become an
important therapy for a devastating disease that affects 4 million
Family members of individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimers
disease in the Washington, DC area who are interested in participating
in the trial at Georgetown should contact the Memory Disorders Program
Ongoing CR monkey study update: "In the monkeys...those on
reduced feeding since the study started are dying at a rate
that is about half that of the monkeys receiving a full food
ration." Associated Press: Eating less may extend human life.
August 1, 2002 : http://www.msnbc.com/news/788746.asp?0si=-http://IanGoddard.net/journal.htm
"To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals." Benjamin Franklin