Friday, 11 April 2014

Alzheimer’s and Cancer: what you don't know can't harm you?

The old saying goes 'what you don't know can't harm you' and when it comes to Cancer Awareness this may be literal. Every so often one comes across a story which reveals more about the underlying truth of the matter than the main subject of the article. In this case, a study conducted in Madrid which demonstrates that people who have Alzheimer’s disease and are not aware they have cancer, generally do not die from cancer. The reason for this is perhaps that they simply do not go to the doctor and get a biopsy, and then following this, receive chemotherapy.

“Studies have shown that people with Alzheimer’s disease are less likely to develop cancer, but we don’t know the reason for that link,” study author Dr. Julian Benito-Leon of University Hospital in Madrid, said in a statement. “One possibility is that cancer is under diagnosed in people with dementia, possibly because they are less likely to mention their symptoms or caregivers and doctors are focused on the problems caused by dementia. The current study helps us discount that theory.”

Here is Dr. Julian Benito-Leon of University Hospital in Madrid telling us that diagnosis of cancer is more likely to lead to death in senior citizens than the ones not knowing that they have it. Yet in the same statement he completely contradicts what he stated and concludes that this theory is now discounted. However, no proof is presented. Very confusing.

“We need to understand better the relationship between a disease that causes abnormal cell death and one that causes abnormal cell growth,” Benito-Leon said. “With the increasing number of people with both dementia and cancer, understanding this association could help us better understand and treat both diseases.”

This is interesting as cancer can occur in every part of the body, yet Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain. So therefore, how could, say, lung or kidney cancer be affected by changes in neurology to the point where they are less likely to kill? Could it be that it is not the Alzheimer’s disease which is preventing these death's, but more a case of these people not reporting their aliments to the nurses, and so these elderly people are not being put on chemotherapy by doctors? 

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