In a previous post, I referred to some research that seemed to indicate that there is a link between having a cynical and distrustful personality and later getting Alzheimer disease. As I explained then, this does not mean that being cynical causes the disease. All it is is a correlation. If anything, it might mean that the same underlying cause leads to both the cynicism and the dementia.
Now there is some more research that seems to indicate that at least one form of hereditary Alzheimer syndrome is beginning to affect the brains of its carriers much earlier in life. There is evidence of brain shrinkage as early as age three in some children with the APOEe4 gene mutation. This mutation is known to make its carrier fifteen times as likely to get dementia as non-carriers. It’s alarming that about fourteen percent of people carry this mutation, and it seems to be implicated in 20-25 percent of Alzheimer cases. Researchers stress, though, that genetics increase the risk, but do not guarantee the result. Interestingly, the APOEe4 gene mutation is also known to make people more susceptible to disease in general. Might it be that we’ll be able to prevent at least some Alzheimer cases by treating some childhood infection? If so, then might it be possible that we’d also see a reduction in cynical, distrustful people?
Mind you, given the implications of potentially altering people’s personalities, and possibly their politics, what are the odds that there will be a huge campaign against the treatment? Or is that too cynical?