Promising new Alzheimer’s model
“Memories can’t wait” (SN: 3/12/11, p. 24) was a well-written analysis of the problems facing those of us working in the field of geriatric psychology. The new research model based on inflammation is very promising. From a cost-benefit standpoint, early diagnosis and preventive treatment of potential Alzheimer’s patients will be essential for Medicare to survive.
Joe Roberts, Jackson, Miss.

Mapping diabetes
I read with interest the article titled “‘Diabetes belt’ cinches the South” (SN: 4/9/11, p. 14). Looking at the map, I noticed that the high diabetes rates in the western states seem to correlate strongly with American Indian reservations. Have there been any studies that indicate Native Americans have higher incidences of diabetes? If so, is it lifestyle or biology?

Other areas of the map, specifically in southwest Wyoming, Colorado and northern New Mexico, seem to show a lower incidence of diabetes, which may be worth more study. I wonder if this is due to something in the lifestyle that can be exported or to the climate or elevation, which cannot. Or perhaps the lower rates are caused by bad or limited data. In any case, studying areas with lower rates might give as much useful information as studying the counties of high incidence.
Thank you for the excellent magazine.
John D. Underwood, Terrell, Texas

The reader makes a good observation — there is a high prevalence of diabetes on some American Indian reservations, which is reflected in the map. Study coauthor Lawrence Barker of the CDC acknowledged this during an interview. And indeed, the lower rates in some areas may point to new strategies in lowering diabetes rates in other communities. The lower rates may be explained by something straightforward such as a healthier lifestyle, though the data used in the map do not address underlying causes. — Nathan Seppa

Dangerous knowledge
The problem, as discussed in the David Nichols interview (“The costs of putting knowledge into the wrong hands,” SN: 2/26/11, p. 32), is not with the free exchange of knowledge but rather with the government’s drug prohibition policy. By suppressing the relatively safer drug MDMA (ecstasy), moralists are acting with the same ruthlessness that led to, during alcohol prohibition, the poisoning (“denaturing”) of industrial alcohol — a policy that resulted in an estimated 10,000 deaths.

Terry Franklin, Amherst , Mass.