Beware use of Prevagen for Alzheimer’s disease

#Middlebury #ToYourGoodHealth #Prevagen

DEAR DR. ROACH: Could you please discuss the use of Prevagen for Alzheimer’s disease? My chiropractor wants me to take it because my mother had Alzheimer’s. She says her father is doing well and not progressing. What do jellyfish have to cause this result? I have not seen any research from medical facilities that back this up. – L.C.

ANSWER: I could not find any peer-reviewed literature that supports the use of Prevagen for Alzheimer’s disease or other neurological disease. The manufacturer has unpublished data on its website that suggests there may be a benefit in memory. There also is a study in rats that suggests the active protein, apoaequorin, may protect nerve cells against loss of glucose and oxygen. This protein was originally identified from luminescent jellyfish but is made synthetically in Prevagen. The rat research result is surprising, since proteins are normally broken down in the GI tract, and would not be expected to have activity in the brain.

Reports of serious adverse events from this product have been made to the Food and Drug Administration. A supplement is not required to show its benefit; in fact, the product information for Prevagen clearly states that it is “not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.” I don’t recommend using this product until there is clear, peer-reviewed evidence that it is better than placebo. In my mind, taking any treatment – drug or supplement – to prevent a condition requires the highest level of certainty.

DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 50-year-old female. How accurate are the results of fecal blood tests? In May, then July, I saw what looked like blood in my stool. My GP ordered the fecal blood test, three smears over three days. Results negative. Then in November I saw it again. My doctor said since the fecal test showed no blood, there is no blood.

My sister had colon cancer at age 45. I have had pre-cancerous polyps removed every three years for the past 10 years. Can I trust the fecal blood test results? – S.C.

ANSWER: The fecal occult blood test uses an enzyme that causes a color change in the presence of heme, a component of hemoglobin, the major protein in blood. Although the fecal blood results are pretty accurate, they can be erroneous in two ways: a false positive and a false negative.

A false positive means the stool test is positive when there is no blood. This can happen from eating raw vegetables (many types, especially turnips and radishes) and meat. A false negative can happen in the presence of large amounts of vitamin C, but more importantly, many lesions of the colon, including colon cancer, bleed only intermittently.

In my opinion, someone with a history like yours, including precancerous polyps and a family history of colon cancer, should have a colonoscopy as the screening test rather than stool cards.

READERS: The booklet on colon cancer provides useful information on its causes, symptoms and treatments. To order a copy, write: Dr. Roach – No. 505W, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

Dr. Roach regrets he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to To view and order health pamphlets, visit

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