Second Opinion Health Alert
December 19, 2008
Can this act of kindness reduce your risk of Alzheimer‘s by 89%?
The incidence of Alzheimer’s disease is increasing rapidly. There still
is no satisfactory treatment. Even alternatives have little impact. So
prevention is absolutely vital. Now, what if I told you it’s possible to
reduce your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease by 89%? Would you be
This treatment doesn’t cost anything. But it does require some effort on
your part. No, it’s not exercise — though exercise does help
considerably. The treatment is quite simple. All you have to do is serve
Yep, that’s all there is to it. You see, There’s a lot of research on
conscientiousness and longevity. Work going back into the early 1990s
strongly suggests a relationship. And now we’re seeing this research
applied to memory.
In fact, this latest study shows that serving others not only reduces
your risk of Alzheimer’s by a whopping 89%, but it also reduces your risk
of mild cognitive decline, as well.
This study followed 997 older Catholic nuns, priests, and brothers
without dementia at the start of the study. The researchers evaluated the
Catholics with a 12-item measure of conscientiousness. Then they followed
the participants for 12 years or until they died. The researchers
controlled the subjects for other personality traits, activity patterns,
and vascular conditions. Of course, they also controlled for age, sex,
and education. Eighteen percent (176) of the patients developed
Alzheimer’s during the study.
The authors found that those with the highest conscientiousness scores
(90th percentile) had the lowest risk. And those with the lowest scores
(10th percentile), had the highest risk.
In those who died, the researchers did pathological examinations of their
brains at autopsy. Conscientiousness had a measurable modifying effect on
the development of neurofibrillary pathologic changes and cerebral
infarction (stroke) before death. Neurofibrillary tangles are a
pathological hallmark of Alzheimer’s brains. This research strongly
suggests that conscientiousness can markedly reduce very nasty anatomical
changes in your brain while maintaining brain function.
There are a lot of nutritional steps you can take to reduce your risk of
dementia, but none of them can compare to these results. Does serving
others really work this well? Consider Mother Teresa. She lived a very
productive life until she died at 87. Many people consider her one of the
most conscientious people of all time.
I know many seniors who volunteer their time in service after they
retire. They seem happier, more active, and have a higher self worth. I
also see many patients who are working well into their 80s with no
apparent decline at all. While my experience is observational only, I
strongly believe there’s a significant benefit to your health when you
This research is a compelling reason to reach out to others and help them
whenever possible. And now we know that serving others also serves
ourselves. Many of us make a point of helping others during the holidays.
That’s great. But this year, keep doing it throughout the year. It’s a
great way to keep your brain healthy.
Yours for better health and medical freedom,