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Alzheimer's research needs funding

17th March 2008

In The Independent,

Old WomanJoan Bakewell states the case for more government funding to support research into Alzheimer's disease.

The author Terry Pratchett is the country's most well-known person who suffers from Alzheimer's. Pratchett is of the view that lifestyle factors and the right drug treatments might stop the progression of his disease into dementia.

He could be in luck, as research into the disease by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has shown that cannabis acts to slow memory loss.

The research will be nothing new to Drug Watch Oregon in the US. For many years their Marijuana Research Review has been looking into the beneficial effects of the plant. The Oregon Health Division has recently added Alzheimer's disease to a list of illnesses which are allowed to be legally treated with cannabis.

In addition to the positive effects of marijuana, the Review warns about the dangers of increasingly strong variations of the plant. These can include damage to the immune system and body temperature, in addition to learning impairment and memory problems.

Therefore, the most recent research is not "a call to return to the weed by those for whom 50 years ago it was simply part of a free-wheeling lifestyle."

One of the state's many Alzheimer's patients - acting as a spokesperson for people with the disease - has stated the need for "an extensive scientific study... to examine both positive and negative effects". He added that as this research had not gone ahead yet they were unable to endorse the benefits of marijuana.

Our memories define us - they act intrinsically to give us our sense of identity. Getting older means continually adding to our experiences and it is crucial to our sanity to be able to remember these. A key element of becoming older is that it becomes harder to remember things and every person forgets in different ways.

Apparently people in Britain who worry about their memory loss do not visit their doctor as quickly as the German population. As a result, they are not given the drugs to treat their condition soon enough. Elderly people do not want to cause a "fuss" and are ignored by society. This is unacceptable.

The government only allocates 3% to Alzheimer's research in comparison to the amount it gives to cancer. As the number of people aged above 50 rises in the general population, it becomes clear that the disease should be made "a higher priority."

We should make sure the government is not allowed to forget about Alzheimer's disease!

 

 

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