What Causes Alzheimer's? We Don't Really Know Yet
Last week, headlines reverberated across the internet with seemingly groundbreaking news: Scientists had found a cause — and with it, a possible cure — of Alzheimer's disease. The culprit, the reports said, was the bacterium that causes gum disease.
But have scientists really solved one of the 21st century's biggest medical mysteries? Experts tell Live Science that caution is needed and that untangling the knotty causes of Alzheimer's disease is far from straightforward.
The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer's disease currently affects more than 5.5 million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health. In the brains of people with Alzheimer's, abnormal buildup of proteins — called amyloid plaques and tau tangles — slowly destroy brain cells and the connections among them, hindering the individuals' ability to think and remember.
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