The book, “Menace of our Neurons”, published in 2011 and currently available only in French, devotes an entire chapter to Alzheimer’s disease which is as extensive and as costly in France per population as in the United States. The book, written by Marie Grosman, specialist in public and environmental health, and Roger Lenglet, philosopher and investigative journalist, is the result of a 15-year enquiry into diseases which affect the brain and nervous system and their links to the environment. The book also explores how industry (pharmaceutical, agro-food, insurance) profits from these diseases.
The chapter devoted to AD is about the authors' visit to the « Alzheimer Train ». What they discovered about AD could apply to other diseases such as cancer : the domination of industry profit to the neglect of our health; the denial of consideration of the real causes of the disease, lack of true prevention; a conspiracy of silence regarding information destined for the public; ineffectiveness of medical treatment, especially in the case of AD.
In order to raise awareness of the French public, an « Alzheimer Train » toured France in 2010. This exposition was sponsored by “Expo Trains”, a communication company used by large national and international firms to promote their products. This was the project of an adviser, a geneticist, to French President Nicholas Sarkozy. Firms exhibiting in the train included Pfizer which has been producing medications to treat AD since 1994; Nestlé, which fights against malnutrition in persons afflicted with AD. Aricept, developed by Pfizer, is the most common medicine used to treat AD. It has numerous unpleasant side effects. Its effectiveness is modest, slowing the disease by several months in about 10% of patients. The funds gathered for AD go towards development and improvement of new treatments and new diagnostic techniques, NOT towards researching the real causes of the disease and the means to mitigate these. Posters in the train say that 1.3 million persons in France will be afflicted with AD in 2020 and nearly twice this number in 2040, which gives the impression that the increase in the number of cases is inevitable and that true prevention (researching the environmental causes) will therefore be ineffective.
Alzheimer’s disease has created “a profitable business”. The general impression is that theorigin of the disease is a mystery. The only mention of environmental causes is found in the initial text exhibited in the Train: tobacco, pesticides and water containing too much aluminum. These words were written by Dr. Véronique Chabernaud who says: “We do not live in a country (France) where prevention is judged to be a priority.” She speaks about the “complete lack of a culture of prevention of those who establish policy, those who produce medicines and even doctors.” Medical insurance does not include primary prevention, apart from vaccination. There are persons, particularly among the young, who think that health is taking medication to prevent being sick. The pharmaceutical, agro-food and tobacco industries do not want to hear about the toxicity of their products nor about prevention. This is also the grim portrait of health care in the United States and in Switzerland.
Dr. Chabernaud wants everyone to open their eyes, and this is also my message.
by Meris Michaels
by Meris Michaels