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#PreventiveNeurology: is life a sexually transmitted neurodegenerative disease?

Age is a disease vs. Ageing as a natural biological process: have your say #PreventiveNeurology #HealthyAgeing

I have always cracked the joke 'that life is a sexually transmitted neurodegenerative disease with a 100% mortality'. This usually gets a mutated laugh until people start pondering the implications of the joke and realise that I am being serious.

Evolution never designed, and selected, the human brain and nervous system to function much past 35 years of age. It is only relatively recently that life expectancy has increased with the requirement of our brains to function into old age. It is clear that when we measure cognitive function, and brain volume, it is all downhill from about 35 years of age. Those of us who are older than 35 notice the subtle cognitive impairments that increase with age and the gradual malfunction of our nervous systems. When last have you tried tight-rope walking? Your failing balance system is simply a reflection of the global rot that is also shredding your cognition. Fortunately we have enough reserve to adapt and cope with slow decline in our mental faculties. However, if we live long enough we are all likely to become demented. Dementia in this setting is simply the reduction of cognition to a point when you can't manage socially and need help. To prevent the inevitable consequence of ageing is there anything we can do to optimise our brain health so our 'brains outlive' our bodies. 

How to optimise brain health so that we die of a systemic disease with our cognition relatively intact is the aim of our #PreventiveNeurology campaign. Maybe we should call it #HealthyAgeing? We have hypothesised, based on scientific principles, that there is a lot we can do to improve brain health. However, some of the interventions may require the administration of medications. For this to happen and be adopted by society we need to make ageing a disease. By defining ageing as a disease it changes everything. Firstly, it creates the incentives for the pharmaceutical industry to invest in the necessary R&D to get drugs to market. If ageing is a disease healthcare systems will pay for interventions. The corollary is that if ageing is not defined as a disease any interventions, to delay or modify ageing, will be limited to lifestyle interventions. By defining ageing as a disease it will allow us to develop tools for population screening to identify people who are either healthy or in the presymptomatic phase of known neurodegenerative disease. This will then allow us to test preventive strategies to delay the onset of symptomatic disease. 

This is why we want to shift the 'defining of ageing as a disease' debate centre stage! Please have your say. 


  1. Interesting take on things. I am prepared to have a disease called life if it leads to an improvement in my quality of life. I am interested to know what are your drug targets.

    1. Re: 'Drug targets'. At moment is based on reducing your cardiovascular risk, therefore antihypertensives, statins and aspirin. This is not rocket science.


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