Shocking Data: If You’re in Your Late 40s, You May Be in the First Stage of Alzheimer’s! | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Shocking Data: If You’re in Your Late 40s, You May Be in the First Stage of Alzheimer’s!

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The brain is being destroyed before we are even aware of it.

Alzheimer’s disease accounts for about 70% of the causes of dementia. Although it is often thought of as a disease of the elderly, Alzheimer’s disease takes 20 to 30 years to develop and progresses slowly.

“It is now known that 49% of people in their late 40’s have already started the first stage of Alzheimer’s disease, “the destruction of brain nerves,” says Dr. Toshihiko Toshima, a professor of life sciences at the Gakushuin School of Science.”

says Akihiko Takashima, Professor of the Department of Life Science, Faculty of Science, Gakushuin University.

It is predicted that one in five elderly people will have dementia by 2025.According to Takashima, the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients exhibit three characteristics.

“The first is the formation of “senile plaques” on the surface of the brain. In Alzheimer’s disease, there is a buildup of beta-amyloid and tau protein. Second, excessive phosphorylation of tau protein causes neurofibrillary tangles, a lint-like accumulation inside nerve cells. The third is brain atrophy.

Neurofibrillary tangles cause the death of neurons and synapses that connect nerves to each other. The death of nerve cells destroys the brain cells in that area, and the brain also atrophies.”


Neurofibrillary tangles first occur in the “olfactory entorhinal cortex,” a region inside the temporal lobe of the brain that, along with the hippocampus, is responsible for learning and memory and spatial perception. The degree of neurofibrillary change is expressed in six stages, with stages I and II being preventable, but stages III and above are no longer preventable.

“The olfactory entorhinal cortex is the first to receive information that comes in from the outside. The information is sent to the hippocampus for processing, and then sent back to the cerebral cortex via the olfactory entorhinal cortex. It is a very important part of the brain in terms of information processing.”

If you are experiencing a decline in memory, or if you have trouble remembering names quickly, it may be that the cells in the olfactory cortex are already being destroyed.

Although there are no subjective symptoms, 8% of people in their early 20s show brain nerve destruction (stage I/II) from the olfactory entorhinal cortex to the hippocampus, and this percentage increases to 49% in their late 40s; some people in their 50s develop stage III (destruction extends to the periphery), which is difficult to prevent, and the development of MCI (mild cognitive impairment) may occur. MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment) appears.
Although the areas where nerve destruction has occurred will never return to normal, the progression of the disease can be controlled by preventative measures in the early stages. However, in stage III and above, it is almost impossible to prevent the progression.

Prevention of heart disease is prevention of dementia.

“Senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are like protein garbage in the brain. If you live for a long time, you will accumulate this protein garbage in your brain.”

But some people develop Alzheimer’s disease, while others do not. Why is this?

“Heredity is one factor, but lifestyle is thought to play a major role. This is because it is very important to improve blood flow. If the brain is well nourished by blood flow, metabolism runs smoothly and abnormal proteins that have not yet been deposited can be expelled from the body.

Destroyed brain cells will not be restored, but the remaining brain cells will do their best to increase the number of synapses and compensate for the function of the destroyed brain cells.”

In fact, in the United Kingdom, where there were many heart disease patients, policies such as reducing the number of smokers to about 1,300 yen per pack of cigarettes to prevent heart disease and encouraging the baking industry to reduce salt by 10% have resulted in a 20-30% reduction in dementia in people over 75 years of age in the past 20 years. The motto “Prevention of heart disease is prevention of dementia” has even been adopted.

“Prevention of lifestyle-related diseases, such as moderate exercise, a well-balanced diet, and not being overweight, is directly related to the prevention of dementia. In addition, taking a walk along an unfamiliar street is also effective.

In the olfactory cortex, there are lattice cells, which function like a GPS to recognize how far and how long you have traveled to get from point A to point B. By repeatedly going down an unfamiliar path and returning home, we can activate the cells.”

“Nevertheless, once the disease reaches Stage III, there are so many cells that have been destroyed that trying to compensate for function using only the remaining cells would be too much of a burden, and the remaining cells would also break down,” he said.


Three years from now, one in five elderly people will have dementia. Japan has the world’s highest ratio of dementia to the total population.

The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare estimates that as of 2020, there will be approximately 6 million people aged 65 or older with dementia, and predicts that by 2025 there will be approximately 7 million. This figure is one out of every five elderly people. This is the highest percentage of the total population among the 35 developed countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), due in part to the aging of the population.

The only way to prevent it is to find it in its earliest stages. However, until now, cognitive function tests have only been able to make a diagnosis at stage III or above. Various studies are being conducted to somehow detect it in the “very” early stages. One such company is MIG Corporation (Brain100 studio program), of which Mr. Takashima is a co-founder, which conducts “spatial navigation brain function measurement” using VR goggles to identify the “early stages” of brain function breakdown. Cognitive disorders are no longer a problem for anyone else.

Dementia is no longer something that is only a matter for older people, and we can only hope that a preventive drug will be developed as soon as possible. But first, we need to review our daily lives.

Subjects put on VR goggles and move around in a virtual plaza. From the starting point, they move to point A, point B, and back to the starting point. How far they have moved from the correct starting point indicates whether they are in Stage I or higher.Akihiko Takashima, Ph. Professor, Department of Life Sciences, Faculty of Science, Gakushuin University; Co-founder and Director, Chief Science Officer, MIG Corporation.’ He has been a visiting scientist at the National Institutes of Health since 1987, worked at RIKEN since ’98, and has been in his current position since 2016. Author of “Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease Now: How to Protect Your Brain as Taught by a Leading Expert” (Sankei Shimbun Publications) and “JIN – Jin to Manabu Dementia ‘Super’ Early Detection and Prevention Methods” (Shueisha), among others.
  • Interview and text by Izumi Nakagawa

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