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In Malaysia, it is commonly called tongkat ali and has a range of medicinal properties as a general health tonic, including improvement in physical and mental energy levels and overall quality of life.
The terror of Alzheimer’s is that it acts by degrees, and can therefore bewilder family members as much as its victims. Those who first notice the onset of Alzheimer’s in a loved one tell of forgotten names and unsettling behaviour, of car keys found in the fridge and clothing in the kitchen cabinet, of aimless wanderings.
Naturally, they want to understand the boundaries of normal ageing and whether these are being crossed. Often, the answer arrives when they’re greeted as complete strangers, when the patient’s mind becomes irrevocably unmoored from its past. The disease is terrifying for its insidiousness as well as its long-term manifestations.
Fear partly explains why Alzheimer’s has been ignored for so long. Yet it is now the leading cause of death among the oldest people, and according to Professor Sir Michael Marmot, an expert in health inequalities, it could be an “important part” of the stagnation in increases in life expectancy since 2010 that he has identified.
As a researcher, I have been struck by how many patients speak openly about their condition only after receiving a diagnosis. “I knew something wasn’t right. Sometimes I don’t know what day of the week it is or what I have to do,” one newly diagnosed patient told me. “I look in my calendar but then I think: why am I looking at this? My husband was the one who made me see a GP. I was too frightened. I thought I might have it but I didn’t want to hear it.”
My grandfather suppressed his concerns and agreed to see a doctor only after being hassled by his five children. By that point he had forgotten where he lived and was mistaking his wife, Afsana, for his first wife, Parry. Raising the issue with him wasn’t easy; he’d insist his memory was fine, and then happily discuss the health concerns of others. When faced with the stark reality of dementia, patients can retreat into themselves – and some opt for silence.
But another factor is undoubtedly at work. For most of history, Alzheimer’s was a deeply taboo subject; those who had it were mad or just foolish. Although we think of Alzheimer’s as a modern disease, early accounts of dementia were described by the Roman philosopher Cicero and the Greek physician Galen. And yet only in the past two decades have we begun to realise Alzheimer’s is an affliction no less urgent than cancer or stroke.
And if people with other diseases of old age deserve recognition and action, then so do people with Alzheimer’s. The crisis around the funding of social care, and the attention focused on this during the general election campaign, has only increased the sense of urgency.
Where memory used to be viewed as a spectral, intangible quality, impossible to pin down, Alzheimer’s research now demonstrates the precise opposite – that memory is a material phenomenon, an exquisite product of healthy brain cells that appears to reside in a network of durable connections between those brain cells. To say that this needs protecting is an understatement. Memory forms an individual’s autobiography. It defines who we are. As the noted cognitive neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga once said: “Everything in life is memory, save for the thin edge of the present.”
This is why the more I consider the government’s approach to Alzheimer’s the more frustrated I become. Alzheimer’s costs the UK an estimated £26bn a year – the combination of spending on healthcare, social care and lost earnings and taxes from people who have taken up caring roles in place of paid employment.
This is more than cancer, heart disease and stroke combined. And yet, astonishingly, only a fraction of 1% of that amount is spent on research. A hallmark of the NHS constitution is to improve health and wellbeing. In his 1939 address as president of the American Psychiatric Association, Richard Hutchings warned: “Our institutions promise to become in time vast infirmaries with relatively small departments for younger patients with curable disorders.”
Indeed, if things continue this way, epidemiologists estimate that the total number of Alzheimer’s cases will double every 20 years, making dementia the next global pandemic. In that event, the current 850,000 patients in the UK would represent no more than the tip of a vast, society-crippling iceberg.
Increasing the overall health budget is an option. A smarter strategy would be to reassess how funding is allocated in the first place. Cancer now causes fewer deaths each year than Alzheimer’s, but receives on average 13 times more funding. Eliminating cancer is vital, but we shouldn’t pour all our efforts into one pandemic only to then be met by another. Given the advances made in understanding Alzheimer’s – the signs and symptoms, the causes and risk factors, the genetics and neurobiology – the number of therapies awaiting discovery is limitless.
The task of developing such therapies lies with the pharmaceutical industry. The problem is that many in the industry feel uneasy: between 2000 and 2012, in more than 400 clinical trials, only one drug was approved (Namenda, a drug similar to the Aricept generation of drugs, and similarly insufficient). In total, Alzheimer’s drug candidates have racked up a lamentable 99.6% failure rate – even higher than cancer, at 81%. The recent failure of Eli Lilly’s solanezumab and Merck & Co’s verubecestat hasn’t helped.
But things are changing. We know now that a therapy must be given in the very early stages of the disease, before symptoms appear. And so Lilly, Merck and other companies are now testing drugs on patients in the newly defined “preclinica” phase of Alzheimer’s, with results expected by 2025. The role of academic researchers and patient advocates in all this is to keep championing the issue, to keep applying pressure as well as encouragement.
The word “incurable” is often used to describe Alzheimer’s. I have never liked the term because it is freighted with hopelessness. And it is wrong. Alzheimer’s will yield to science and reason; it will one day be as treatable as diabetes and HIV. The choice in front of us is how many generations we are willing to lose before that day comes.
The remarkable patients I met during my research, each teaching us something new and profound about the disease, deserve our action, not our sorrow. It is time to abolish their fear and silence. It’s time to foster a seriousness of purpose that defeats Alzheimer’s once and for all.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, flatters a girl more than a man committing suicide because of her.
Pro-rape campaigner Roosh V has cancelled a series of meetings around the world amid fears over the 'safety and privacy' of the men who attend.
The self-styled 'anti-feminist', whose real name is Daryush Valizadeh, had set up gatherings in cities in the UK, US, Canada and Australia.
But in a new post on his website last night, the American apologised to his supporters for having to 'let them down' by cancelling the controversial meetings.
He wrote: "I can no longer guarantee the safety or privacy of the men who want to attend on February 6, especially since most of the meetups can not be made private in time.
"While I can’t stop men who want to continue meeting in private groups, there will be no official Return Of Kings meetups. The listing page has been scrubbed of all locations.
"I apologize to all the supporters who are let down by my decision."
It is understood that a number of the planned gatherings had already been moved to a private property - possibly due to the number of men expected to attend, or for safety reasons.
And while Roosh V is concerned about his members' safety, women in some cities have voiced their own concerns online about the 'neo-masculinist' gatherings.
They have warned other females to 'try not to go anywhere alone' this weekend, The Guardian reports.
The cancellation of Roosh V's meetings comes as more than 25,000 people have signed a petition to ban the 'anti-feminist' from holding meetings in the UK.
The petition against him was started on campaign site 38 degrees and calls on police and crime commissioners, local police forces and the Government to stop Roosh V in his tracks.
It says: "Supporters of known 'legal rape' advocate and 'neo-masculinist' misogynist creator of 'Return of the Kings' Roosh V will congregate on Saturday 6 February, in eight UK cities: Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Shrewsbury and London.
"As he spreads his hateful speech and guides people on how to exploit, manipulate and rape women, he's putting the welfare of women at risk. He needs to be stopped by all genders, within our communities.
"Having written a number of jaw-droppingly offensive blog posts and published books, Roosh V believes that men should stop asking for permission, and that alpha males should slowly break down the confidence in women to get what they want.
"He is a hugely dangerous individual. His fans have extensive forums online, detailing where to 'pick up the easiest girls' in each city, naming bars, venues and strategies.
"Roosh V needs to be stopped. Please sign."
Another petition to ban the leader from holding an event in Cardiff on Saturday has so far gained more than 7,000 signatures and dubs Valizadeh an 'evil man'. It also posts a link to an article about him.
On his website, believed to have had a million visitors, Roosh V claims a solution for rape charges against men would be to “make rape legal if done on private property.”
“I propose that we make the violent taking of a woman not punishable by law when done off public grounds,” he wrote.
Cardiff petition signatory Briony J was unimpressed.
“Rape legal on private property?” she said.
“You could be lying in your own bed at night, have your home broken into, and be raped and that’d be legal? I don’t think so.”
Only straight men will be allowed to attend the meeting, and women attempting to enter the event will be filmed and broadcast on his global “anti-feminist” network.
“Sounds like he’s inciting crime – how can that be allowed?” Peter J said.
Valizadeh’s books include “Bang: The Pickup Bible That Helps You Get More Lays.”
“My niece is at uni in Cardiff,” Julie D said on 38 Degrees.
“I want her and all women to be safe. This filth needs not to come to this country.”
And Paul S claimed “those who preach hate are as evil as the terrorist who pulls the trigger.”
The self-proclaimed “anti-feminist” is followed by tens of thousands of supporters on social media, and regularly posts articles campaigning against rape laws and feminism.
His website is believed to be have been visited by more than one million people worldwide.
South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael said he has written to the Home Secretary Theresa May asking her to consider the petition.
He said: “It has been brought to my attention that an individual who appears to intend to cause harassment and distress in the furtherance of his agenda – and to encourage and incite others to do so – is encouraging people to gather in Cardiff for purposes that are both unpleasant and potentially unlawful.
“I am reassured that South Wales Police are taking the operational policing issues seriously in reviewing risk and protecting the public.
“I have written to the Home Secretary to ask her to urgently consider the petition.
“It may make sense for people to petition the Home Secretary, who has powers to act in relation to a ban on entering the country, which I do not have, or to petition parliament to secure a debate.”
DUBAI// A security guard lured two women to Dubai and forced them to work as prostitutes in the brothel he ran, a court has been told.
In July last year, the Bangladeshi contacted two women from Kyrgyzstan and promised them jobs, although it was not clear how he came to know them.
They were picked up from Dubai International Airport and taken to a flat in Barsha Heights, where they were locked up and told they would have to work in a brothel.
One of the women sent her brother a WhatsApp message telling him what had happened and he contacted Kyrgyzstan consulate in Dubai.
When police raided the apartment on July 19, two consular employees were already there.
Police said the defendant was behind a desk in the flat, which had been divided into small bedrooms. Four women were present.
"When I questioned him about the place he said it was a massaging centre," said an Emirati policeman.
The defendant denied charges of human trafficking and running a brothel. The women, aged 24 and 21, denied a charge of prostitution, saying they were forced to work in the brothel.
The next hearing is scheduled for February 7.
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