Rishika Kenkre
Staff Writer

Alzheimer’s is a disease of steady mental decline that occurs in middle or old age, as a result of the degeneration of the brain. This disease impacts 5.3 million Americans, but scientists know that the people affected will continue even more as the population increases. Kenneth Kosik, a professor of neuroscience at the Univeristy of California, Santa Barbara, has found methods to mitigate the risk of having Alzheimer’s.

The book “Outsmarting Alzheimer’s” communicates methods that are easy to add to one’s lifestyle.

Professor Kosik also has a research laboratory that he works in. He applies science to solve medical problems, such as reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s.

“I am very interested in Alzheimer’s disease and I am interested in understanding the genes that are involved, the molecular pathway, why the cells die,” said Kosik in an interview with The Bottom Line. “I have a laboratory here with graduate students, postdoctoral students and a few undergraduates who are all studying this problem using cell biology and molecular biology.”

The concept in his book of reducing the risk of having Alzheimer’s is effective and easy to use. It is better to add these changes sooner than later to prevent the onset of the disease.

“It has to do with a clinical approach as to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s. It is much more lifestyle work and directly working with patients,” said Kosik. “The book is about how you would reduce your risk. One, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s right now. There’s probably not going to be any cure tomorrow. We have to find ways to prevent it before it strikes, because once it strikes, there’s very little we can do unfortunately. The book is really what you can do to change to your lifestyle in the way you are less likely to get the disease. The things people should start when they’re young. The sooner the better.”

Through the work of many scientists and researchers, he created a plan to reduce the risk of having Alzheimer’s.

“Most of the stuff in the book are not my discoveries,” said Kosik. “It is a putting together of many methods hundreds and hundreds of people have done over the years that have developed a plan to reduce the risk. Having an elevated blood pressure may increase your risk of Alzheimer’s. One part of the book is called ‘Know Your Numbers’ and people should know if their cholesterol is high. If a person has a tendency to diabetes, a little bit of high blood sugar, they should get it low.”

He recognizes how it is easy to follow healthy steps to reduce the risk of having the disease.

“In contrast to what I do in the lab, which gets to be very sophisticated stuff, what’s in the book is not rocket science,” said Kosik. “It’s just basic common sense so that we can not end up with Alzheimer’s when we get into old age.”

He also discussed the correlation between having Alzheimer’s and high blood pressure.
“People see that there is a tendency of those with high blood pressure to get Alzheimer’s disease,” said Kosik. “If you look at people with Alzheimer’s or look at it retrospectively, there is a good statistical likelihood that they are related. However, you will have to note that correlation is not causation. I can’t say any of the factors that are in the book are causative of Alzheimer’s. All I can say is that there is correlation and that we can try to get them under control.”

Kosik explained the next step is to do research about finding medication to help prevent the disease or even reduce symptoms. Sometimes, people do not take their medication even though they should be doing so.

“One of [our efforts] on the laboratory side is to actually find some medications that will help the disease,” said Kosik. “There is nothing in the book about that, but there is work going on that might prevent the disease or reduce the symptoms. I have become involved in some of that. I think that is very important and interesting work.”