Alzheimer's disease and prevention

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There are a number of suspected causes for Alzheimer's disease.[1] According to the Mayo Clinic, researchers believe for most people suffering from the disease, genetics, lifestyle, gender and environmental factors are possible contributers.[1]



Increased age is the greatest risk factor - after the age of 65, the chance of developing the disease double every five years. The Mayo Clinic reported that almost fifty percent of those people who are 85 years or older are affected.[2]


A PET scan of the brain of an individual with Alzheimer's disease reveals a loss of function in the temporal lobe.

Some evidence exists that suggests people who don't exercise, or who smoke, have high-blood pressure, high cholesterol or poorly-controled diabetes are at a greater risk of developing the disease.[2]

Another study suggests that weight may also be a factor. Weili Xu, a researcher at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, declared, "Our results contribute to the growing evidence that controlling body weight or losing weight in middle age could reduce your risk of dementia".[3]

In 2011, the website Alzheimer's Reading Room reported:

A new study from Karolinska Institute shows that overweight and obesity in midlife increases the risk of developing dementia later in life. The study, based on data from the Swedish Twin Registry, published in the American scientific journal Neurology.

The researchers analyzed data from 8534 twins 65 years of age and older. Of those, 350 people diagnosed with dementia and 114 with probable dementia. Data on weight and height were registered already, when participants were in their 30s. Participants were divided into four groups based on BMI: underweight, normal weight, overweight and obese. Obesity was defined as BMI between 25 and 30 and obesity as BMI over 30. Of the participants in the study were 2541 people, or nearly 30 percent are overweight or obese in middle age.

It turned out that people who had been overweight or obese in mid-life had 80 percent increased risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia compared with normal weight. The result remained after the researchers took into account other factors that could affect outcomes, such as education, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Of those not suffering from dementia were 26 percent overweight, and 3 percent fat. Among those who had dementia, 39 percent were overweight and seven percent obese.[3]

However, after researchers for the study compared data from twins sets where one sibling had dementia and the other did not, they no longer found a significant link between being overweight and/or obese and the disease. "This suggests that genetic factors and surrounding environment early in life affects the link between obesity in middle age and risk of dementia later in life."[3]

Lifelong learning and social engagement

The Mayo Clinic states that studies suggest that people who keep mentally and socially active during their lives may decrease their chances of developing Alzheimer's disease. Having a higher education, challenging employment, a mentally-stimulating hobby and an active social life may help reduce the risks. The connection hasn't been explained yet, but it may be because the brain develops more "cell-to-cell connections", thus reducing the impact of Alzheimer's damage.[2]

See also

Recommended books

  • Your Miracle Brain: Dramatic New Scientific Evidence Reveals How You Can Use Food and Supplements To: Maximize Your Brainpower, Boost Your Memory, Lift Your Mood, Improve Your IQ and Creativity, Prevent and Reverse Mental Aging by Jean Carper, Harper Paperbacks, 2001 ISBN 0060183918

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