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Alzheimer Disease and Black People

Had up close and personal experience with this in my family, with more than one of my maternal side’s siblings coming down with it. With the dozens of doctors and researchers I talked to…None ever mentioned this.

African-Americans Need to Wake Up to the Danger of Alzheimer’s

The justified fear in the African-American community around medical trials is keeping us from beating a disease that affects us more than others.

Today we celebrate the civil rights movement, one of its beloved leaders, and our hard-won gains. Unfortunately, African-Americans are at risk of letting those gains slip through their fingers, along with their most basic civil right: to support their families, and themselves. Worse, they don’t even know about this threat. I’m talking about Alzheimer’s, and the dirty little secret that African-Americans are twice as likely to get it. Its consequences, as I have come to see first-hand, are simply catastrophic.

My beautiful wife, the food and lifestyle maven B. Smith is now well into the dreadful progression of stages from which, so far, no cure or effective treatment exists. I have become her round-the-clock caretaker, the hardest job I’ve ever known. And yet I’m luckier than most in my position: we live in a nice house, and we have money saved.

For the 5.3million Americans coping with it, and the roughly fifteen million more serving as full or part-time caretakers to those loved ones, Alzheimer’s is a curse that costs, on average, $100,000 a year. Make that $1 million over the disease’s average ten-year duration. Most African-American families struggling with Alzheimer’s simply can’t afford that. Having reached the middle class at last—thanks in large part to Dr. King and his movement—many are slipping back into destitution, the gains of a movement snuffed out, like so many candles in the dark, one by one by one.

The Obama administration has, at last, taken steps to address the gross inequity of funding for Alzheimer’s research versus other top killers. The budget for Alzheimer’s research will be boosted 60% in this year’s budget to $936 million. That’s still chump change compared to cancer ($5.1 billion) and HIV/AIDs ($25.3 billion), especially with 13.8 million Americans projected to get Alzheimer’s by 2050, at a cost to us all of $1.1 trillion. Yet, research is up, and promising drugs are out there.

The problem is that African-Americans may not benefit from that research. Why? In a word: Tuskagee. The infamous, decades-long, secret study of black men with syphilis that led to so many unnecessary deaths left subsequent generations deeply—and rightly—suspicious of medical trials. Result: hardly any African-Americans have signed up for new Alzheimer’s drug trials. If the disease affects African-Americans differently, who’s to say the new drugs will be suitable for them?

So on this day of civil rights celebration, I say to my fellow African-Americans: don’t be put off by a medical experiment long impugned and barred by law from reoccurring. Don’t squander the civil right to help cure a disease that disproportionately targets us. Sign up for Alzheimer’s trials, either by contacting the national Alzheimer’s Association or the Brain Health Registry. Join the fight.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2016 in Black History, BlackLivesMatter

 

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A Cure for the Common Conservative?

Looks like the cure for conservatism will actually beat a cure for cancer… Yup – “There’s a pill for that!”

Blood pressure drug ‘reduces in-built racism’

A common heart disease drug may have the unusual side-effect of combating racism, a new study suggests.

The beta-blocker drug can reduce ‘subconscious’ racism, the Oxford University study found.

Researchers found that people who took propranolol scored significantly lower on a standard test used to detect subconscious racial attitudes, than those who took a placebo.

Propranolol is most often used to reduce high blood pressure by lowering the heart rate, as well as angina and irregular heartbeat. It is also used to manage the physical symptoms of anxiety, and control migraine.

It is thought to work by blocking activation of the peripheral ‘autonomic’ nervous system, and in areas of the brain involved with formulating emotional responses, including fear, called the amygdalae.

The researchers believe propranolol reduces racial bias because such subconscious thoughts are triggered by that autonomic nervous system.

Their small study took 36 white student volunteers, gave half a single 40mg dose of propranolol and half a placebo, and asked them all to undertake the Implicit Association Test – designed to test “subtle and spontaneous biased behaviour” – two hours later.

The test requires participants to visually sort particular words like ‘joy’ ,’evil’, ‘happy’ and ‘glorious’, as well as black and white faces, into the correct categories.

Sylvia Terbeck, lead author of the study, published in the journalPsychopharmacology, said: “Our results offer new evidence about the processes in the brain that shape implicit racial bias.

“Implicit racial bias can occur even in people with a sincere belief in equality.

“Given the key role that such implicit attitudes appear to play in discrimination against other ethnic groups, and the widespread use of propranolol for medical purposes, our findings are also of considerable ethical interest.”

Professor Julian Savulescu, of the university’s Faculty of Philosophy, and a co-author of the study, said: “Such research raises the tantalising possibility that our unconscious racial attitudes could be modulated using drugs, a possibility that requires careful ethical analysis.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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A Vaccine for Heroin Addiction?

Wow – this could be  major game changer.

And you thought there were only Zombies in the movies..

Mexican scientists successfully test vaccine that could cut heroin addiction

A group of Mexican scientists is working on a vaccine that could reduce addiction to one of the world’s most notorious narcotics: heroin.

Researchers at the country’s National Institute of Psychiatry say they have successfully tested the vaccine on mice and are preparing to test it on humans.

The vaccine, which has been patented in the US, makes the body resistant to the effects of heroin, so users would no longer get a rush of pleasure when they smoked or injected it.

“It would be a vaccine for people who are serious addicts, who have not had success with other treatments and decide to use this application to get away from drugs,” the institute’s director Maria Elena Medina said on Thursday.

Scientists worldwide have been searching for drug addiction vaccines for several years, but none have yet been fully developed. A group at the US National Institute on Drug Abuse has reported significant progress in a vaccine for cocaine.

However, the Mexican scientists appear to be close to making a breakthrough on a heroin vaccine and have received funds from the US institute as well as the Mexican government.

During the tests, mice were given access to deposits of heroin over an extended period of time. Those given the vaccine showed a huge drop in heroin consumption, giving the institute hope that it could also work on people, Medina said.

Kim Janda, a scientist working on his own narcotics vaccines at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, said that the Mexican vaccine could function but with some shortcomings.

“It could be reasonably effective, but maybe too general and affect too many different types of opioids as well as heroin,” Janda said.

Mexico has a growing drug addiction problem. Health secretary Jose Cordoba recently said the country now has about 450,000 hard drug addicts, particularly along the trafficking corridors of the US-Mexico border.

Mexican gangsters grow opium poppies in the Sierra Madre mountains and convert them into heroin known as Black Tar and Mexican Mud, which are smuggled over the Rio Grande.

 

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