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Heightened Awareness Lives On

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Heightened Awareness Lives On

F. Edward Yazbak MD

Until few years ago, some researchers were still claiming that the spectacular increase in Autism and ASD was mostly due to heightened awareness.

The horrifying increases in another disorder in the last few decades were also attributed earlier on to heightened awareness as if like Autism, Alzheimer Disease (AD) is so difficult to recognize.


In January 1996, the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics published a 31 page report titled “Mortality Trends for Alzheimer’s Disease, 1979–91” [1] that included the following highlights:

  • A record 14,112 Alzheimer’s deaths were reported in the United States in 1991 of which 13,768 were among persons 65 years-old or older
  • AD would have been the 11th leading cause of death for individuals 65 years of age and older if it were separately identified in the standard tabulation list
  • The age specific death rates for persons 85 years and over with AD were about 19 times greater than those for persons 65–74 years of age
  • The age-adjusted death rate for AD, which eliminates the effects of the aging of the population, increased each year from 1979 to 1988.
  • Increases also occurred over this period for a broader group of dementia conditions that included Alzheimer’s disease

Because of the above alarming facts, Alzheimer’s deaths were separately tabulated starting in 1999.

Interestingly something else happened during the same period: Influenza vaccination coverage among the elderly in the United States rose substantially from 15% in 1980 to around 65% in the mid-nineties. [2]


In 2006, researchers from the same CDC Center published another report titled “Trends in Causes of Death among Older Persons in the United States” [3] and listed Alzheimer Disease as the 6th leading cause of death among persons aged 65 years and older after heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases and influenza /pneumonia.

So in just seven years, deaths from Alzheimer Disease jumped from #11 to # 6 on the official United States Standard Tabulation List.

The only significant trends in mortality among older persons listed by the researchers were the dramatic declines in death rates from heart disease and stroke, the significant declines in cancer death rates and the increases in Alzheimer’s disease death rates.

According to the authors, AD was afflicting about 4.5 million Americans in 2005 and the death rate from the disease had consistently increased by 7% to 9% each year since 1999.

The authors ended their report with the scary statement that “since Alzheimer’s disease mortality is associated with older age, its prevalence may increase as longevity increases.”


According to the CDC, 83,494 deaths due to Alzheimer’s were recorded in 2010, a significant many-fold increase since the 14,112 deaths in 1991.

By 2012, one in eight older Americans had Alzheimer’s disease according to the Alzheimer’s Association. [4]

Other sources [5] proposed just as alarmingly dismal estimates:

  • 500,000 new cases of AD may have been diagnosed in 2012 
  • Someone in the United States now develops Alzheimer’s every 68 seconds and by 2050, that time will be down to 33 seconds.

According to the same sources, the economic impact of Alzheimer Disease is similarly staggering and could in time simply cripple the healthcare system of the United States.

In 2012, long-term care, and hospice for people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias may have reached $200 billion. With the yearly increase in the number of Alzheimer cases, the cost for caring for all these patients will undoubtedly keep rising.

Because of cost, literally millions of elderly Americans with AD are presently being cared for by family members or friends who are usually not compensated for their time, service and expenses. It was estimated that in the United Sates in 2011, friends and family provided 17.4 billion hours of unpaid care to elderly people with Alzheimer Disease.


One can only imagine how upsetting it was for many to read in a 1990 newspaper article titled ALZHEIMER'S `RISE' DUE TO AWARENESS [6] in which a CDC epidemiologist commented that: "It's a little difficult to believe that the number of people with Alzheimer disease could increase 950 percent in eight years… Our general feeling is heightened awareness was a little more important.”

The same epidemiologist apparently added that Alzheimer's disease tended to strike older people, that because the U.S. population was aging, the incidence of the disease was also up, and that “doctors realized that Alzheimer disease was a specific disease . . . and not a normal process of aging. There was something different about people with Alzheimer disease."

On March 19, 2013, the same newspaper that carried the above 1990 statements published another article titled so appropriately “Alzheimer's-related deaths on the rise; still no treatment, cure or way to stop its rampant spread”. [7]


We obviously all know another disease that has had a rampant spread, that was earlier presumed to have been due to heightened awareness, that has no specific treatment and where cure, if it happens, is rare and seldom perfect. Children and young adults with autism do not die as frequently as old people with Alzheimer but they too, need prolonged and demanding expensive care, most of which is not likely to be covered.

So far no one has come out with the brilliant idea that there must be a genetic cause for Alzheimer’s. On the other hand, spectacular and sustained increases in the number of Alzheimer’s cases suggest environmental causes just like autism.

In November 2010, Northeastern University announced that research by Professor Richard Deth and academic colleagues in Germany suggested that long-term exposure to mercury may produce Alzheimer’s-like symptoms in people. [8] “The team of researchers conducted a literature review of more than 100 experimental and clinical studies on mercury exposure in cell models, animals and humans. They found that animals exposed to mercury exhibited many of the pathological changes associated with the Alzheimer’s disease, including memory loss, poor cognitive performance and confusion.”

Professor Deth was quoted as saying: “Mercury is clearly contributing to neurological problems, whose rate is increasing in parallel with rising levels of mercury. It seems that the two are tied together.”

The research paper titled “Does Inorganic Mercury Play a Role in Alzheimer’s Disease? A Systematic Review and an Integrated Molecular Mechanism,” was published in the November 2012 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Although the authors did not discuss ethyl mercury exposure, it should be noted that the elderly in the United States are annually exposed to Thimerosal, an ethyl mercury compound in their recommended influenza vaccine.

I examined the CDC vaccine price list [9] on April 2, 2013 and found that a dose of Fluzone vaccine by Sanofi Pasteur costs the CDC $8.15 while a dose of mercury-free Fluzone vaccine costs $9.49. Similarly, a dose of Fluvirin vaccine by Novartis costs the CDC $6.75 and a dose of the mercury-free Fluvirin vaccine costs $7.75.

A dose of regular FluLaval vaccine (GSK) costs the CDC $5.89 but the manufacturer does not offer the vaccine as a mercury-free preparation. Interestingly, GSK offers another more expensive influenza vaccine called Fluarix, with and without Thimerosal.

Recommending and encouraging the use of the mercury-free influenza vaccines for the elderly (and pregnant women and children) is not going to bankrupt the Nation or seriously impact the exorbitant cost of medical care in the United States. The reason why the vaccine authorities are not endorsing the mercury-free products wholeheartedly is probably in order to avoid answering questions about why the mercury preservative was used in the first place for so many years.

The CDC is evidently very interested in the development of “Alzheimer Vaccines” and the recent and on-going clinical trials. [10] [11]

Is anyone in authority interested in researching the issue of vaccines and Alzheimer’s Disease? Probably not! Is the IOM likely to recommend such research? Probably not! In fact, the next surprise may be a recommendation by an IOM committee to research genetic causes of Alzheimer’s.

Decades of research on the genetic causes of autism have not resulted in any earth-shattering discovery and presently no Government-sponsored research is permitted to even consider vaccines or vaccine components as possible causes of the disorder. In fact, studies continue to be undertaken to prove that vaccines cannot possibly cause autism in any way.

Meanwhile, a real scenario from hell is likely to occur more and more frequently:

A lovely American couple with a Golden Retriever living in a suburb and caring for a young adult son or daughter (or two or three) with autism who just realize that Grammy who has Alzheimer’s, must move in with them. They certainly do not need any “Heightened Awareness” to realize that their own life is also going to be destroyed.

Autism is unquestionably an awful disease and so is Alzheimer’s.

The new reality is that the two disorders may be now affecting THREE innocent generations.

F. Edward Yazbak MD

Falmouth, Massachusetts