Medication Taken By 1 in 10 May Increase Dementia Risk 79% (M)

Almost one-in-ten regularly take this medication that is repeatedly linked to increased dementia risk.

Almost one-in-ten regularly take this medication that is repeatedly linked to increased dementia risk.

Another study has found a link between taking sleeping medication and increased dementia risk.

Taking sleep medication was linked to a 79 percent increased risk of dementia among white people.

The link was not seen in Black people, however, and Dr Yue Leng, the study’s first author, is not sure of the reason:

“Differences may be attributed to socio-economic status.

Black participants who have access to sleep medications might be a select group with high socio-economic status and, thus, greater cognitive reserve, making them less susceptible to dementia.

It’s also possible that some sleep medications were associated with a higher risk of dementia than others.”

The study included around 3,000 older people, average age 74, almost half of whom were Black.

The results showed that white people were three times as likely to take sleep medication as Black people.

White people were twice as likely to use benzodiazepines, like Halcion, Dalmane and Restoril and 7 times as likely to use “Z-drugs,” such as Ambien.

It may be that the types of drugs that white people take puts them at higher risk of dementia.

Alternatives to medication

For sleep problems, other options than medication should be considered, said Dr Leng:

“The first step is to determine what kind of sleep issues patients are dealing with.

A sleep test may be required if sleep apnea is a possibility.

If insomnia is diagnosed, cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-i) is the first-line treatment.

If medication is to be used, melatonin might be a safer option, but we need more evidence to understand its long-term impact on health.”

The most common signs of sleep apnea, which affects 30 percent of older people, include:

  • Loud snoring,
  • gasping for air during sleep,
  • breathing stopping for brief periods during the night,
  • morning headache,
  • and daytime sleepiness and irritability.

Sleep and dementia

Poor sleep is one of the common symptoms of dementia, so it may be that taking more sleep medications is a result rather than a cause of dementia.

However, other studies have controlled for this factor and still found a link between anti-anxiety and sleep medication and early death.

These find a dose-response effect: the more of the drugs people took, the higher their risk of death.

Many other studies have found a link between dementia and sleep.

People who sleep for too little or too long are at a higher risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

Indeed, people who sleep more than 9 hours a night have double the risk of developing dementia, one study found.

However, those who sleep for between 5.5 and 7.5 hours per night do not see declines in their cognitive health, even when suffering the early effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

Those sleeping longer also have lower brain volumes.

Also, getting less REM sleep — the phase in which we dream — is linked to dementia.

→ Read on: Dementia: 9 Warning Signs Everyone Should Know

The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (Leng et al., 2023).

A High Salt Diet Is Linked To Cognitive Decline

90% use too much salt and that can cause inflammation of blood vessels in the brain, which is linked to dementia.

90% use too much salt and that can cause inflammation of blood vessels in the brain, which is linked to dementia.

A high-salt diet is linked to cognitive decline and possibly dementia, research finds.

Salt causes the delicate lining of the brain’s blood vessels to inflame, because of signals sent from the gut.

Fully 90% of Americans consume above the recommended dietary maximum of 2,300 mg per day.

Dr Costantino Iadecola, study co-author, said:

“We discovered that mice fed a high-salt diet developed dementia even when blood pressure did not rise.

This was surprising since, in humans, the deleterious effects of salt on cognition were attributed to hypertension.”

The effect was quickly reversed by lowering salt intake.

The conclusions come from a study in which mice were fed a high-salt diet that is equivalent to a high-salt diet in humans.

Subsequently, the mice had much worse cognitive function.

Their brains showed 28% less activity in the cortex and 25% less in the hippocampus.

They had problems getting around a maze and did not show the usual interest in new objects placed in their cage.

They also had poorer blood flow in their brains and the integrity of the blood vessels there was worse.

However, these changes were reversed once the mice were returned to a normal diet.

The scientists found that these changes had nothing to do with higher blood pressure.

Worse cognitive functioning in the mice was seen even when the mice had normal blood pressure.

They were the result of signals sent from the gut to the brain.

These activated an immune response in the brain which increased levels of interleukin-17.

This eventually resulted in the inflammation of the delicate lining of the brain’s blood vessels.

The study was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience (Faraco et al., 2018).

The Popular Supplement That Fights Alzheimer’s

Around 1 in 6 people over 70 have mild cognitive impairment. About half of these people will go on to develop Alzheimer’s within five years.

Around 1 in 6 people over 70 have mild cognitive impairment. About half of these people will go on to develop Alzheimer’s within five years.

Alzheimer’s patients given omega-3 supplements retain their memory function, a small study has found.

Eighteen patients with the debilitating disease were given the omega-3 supplements morning and night for six months.

In total, patients had 2.3 g of omega-3 supplements each day.

They were compared to a group of 15 who acted as a control.

Dr Yvonne Freund-Levi, study co-author, explained the results:

“We can see that the memory function of the patients in the group that had taken omega-3 is stable, whereas the patients in the control group have deteriorated.

That’s what the memory tests show.”

The researchers also looked at biological markers in the patients’ spinal fluid.

This however, did not produce a difference between the two groups, said Dr Freund-Levi:

“…we can’t see any differences between the groups when we look at the various biomarkers in the spinal fluid samples.”

This small study is part of a larger programme looking at over 200 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

They have so far found that omega-3 does transfer from the supplements to the brain.

In the present study, they also found that omega-3 was linked to biomarkers related to damaged nerve cells.

Dr Freund-Levi said:

“Even if this data isn’t enough for us to change our recommendations to patients at this time, it is an interesting material for researchers to build on.”

As this is a small study, it is wise to be cautious, said Dr Freund-Levi:

“We are cautious about giving recommendations, but we know that starting early is by far the best thing – it is difficult to influence the disease at a later stage.

The best piece of advice we have to offer at the moment is to be physically active and to include omega-3 in your diet – in the form of oily fish or as supplements.”

The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (Tofiq et al., 2021).

Boost Memory: 10 Psychology Studies To Know

Boosts in all types of memory come from these simple activities.

Boosts in all types of memory come from these simple activities.

1. Draw it

Drawing pictures of words helps build stronger and more reliable memories, research finds.

The quality of the drawings themselves does not matter, the study also found.

This suggests everyone can benefit from the technique, whatever their artistic talent.

2. Close your eyes

Closing your eyes really can help jog the memory, a study finds.

Eyewitness to a crime remembered twice as many details using this technique.

The results should be useful for helping eyewitnesses to crimes remember more details when questioned by police.

3. Imagine how it relates to you

Imagining how things relate to yourself helps to boost recall, psychological research finds.

The study tested people with and without memory problems and found it could help both.

The results showed that whether people had memory problems or not, self-imagining was the most effective strategy.

Compared with the baseline condition, the self-imagining strategy almost tripled what people could remember.

4. 40 seconds rehearsal

Rehearsing a memory for just 40 seconds could be the key to permanent recall, a study finds.

When rehearsing a memory, the same area of the brain is activated as when laying it down, psychologists found.

This brain region — the posterior cingulate — is also the part that is damaged in Alzheimer’s disease.

Brain scans revealed that the more the activity matched when watching and rehearsing, the more people could remember.

5. Run barefoot

Running barefoot improves memory more than running with shoes on, a study finds.

The benefits may come from the extra demands placed on the brain while barefoot running.

For example, you have to avoid stones and anything else that may damage your feet.

The type of memory tested in the study is called ‘working memory’.

The brain uses working memory to recall and process information.

6. Handwrite it

Writing by hand strengthens memory in comparison to writing on a real or virtual keyboard, research finds.

The motor feedback from the process of writing along with the sense of touching paper and pen helps people learn.

Areas of the brain vital to language are more strongly activated by the physical activity.

7. Lift weights

One single workout with weights can immediately enhance long-term memory by around 20%, according to a study.

While it’s now well-established that months of aerobic exercise can enhance memory, this is the first study examining the effects of a relatively short amount of resistance training.

The reason this works is that exercise puts us into a heightened state, after which, memories — especially emotional ones — are more likely to stick.

8, 9 & 10. Childhood activities

Climbing a tree can improve working memory by 50%, a study finds.

The same is true of other dynamic activities like balancing on a beam, carrying awkward weights and navigating around obstacles.

Dr Tracy Alloway, one of the study’s authors, said:

“Improving working memory can have a beneficial effect on so many areas in our life, and it’s exciting to see that proprioceptive activities can enhance it in such a short period of time.”


MIND Diet Is One Of 5 Changes That Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk by 60%

Following four of the five lifestyle factors reduced Alzheimer’s risk by 60 percent, the study found.

Following four of the five lifestyle factors reduced Alzheimer’s risk by 60 percent, the study found.

Making four out of five critical lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by 60 percent, research finds.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia: one-in-ten Americans over the age of 65 has the devastating disease.

The behaviours are limiting alcohol intake, a high-quality diet, exercise for brain and body and not smoking:

  1. A high quality diet involves eating something like the MIND diet.
  2. Giving up smoking — even after 60 — benefits physical and cognitive health.
  3. 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise is a good weekly target.
  4. Limit alcohol to light or moderate intake. In the US, moderate drinking is no more than 2 standard drinks per day for men and 1 for women (i.e. 2 glasses of wine for men and 1 for women).
  5. Keep the mind active with intellectually engaging tasks, such as hobbies or social activities.

Even following just two or three of these lifestyle changes is linked to reducing Alzheimer’s risk by 37 percent.

However, the more lifestyle factors people adhere to, the lower their risk of dementia.

Dr Richard J. Hodes, Director of the National Institute on Aging, said:

“This observational study provides more evidence on how a combination of modifiable behaviors may mitigate Alzheimer’s disease risk.

The findings strengthen the association between healthy behaviors and lower risk, and add to the basis for controlled clinical trials to directly test the ability of interventions to slow or prevent development of Alzheimer’s disease.”

The study included 1,845 people from whom data on diet, lifestyle factors, genetics and cognitive function was collected.

Following four of the five lifestyle factors reduced Alzheimer’s risk by 60 percent, the study found.

Dr Dallas Anderson, who also works at the NIA, said:

“This population-based study helps paint the picture of how multiple factors are likely playing parts in Alzheimer’s disease risk.

It’s not a clear cause and effect result, but a strong finding because of the dual data sets and combination of modifiable lifestyle factors that appear to lead to risk reduction.”

The study was published in the journal Neurology (Dhana et al., 2020).

Canola Oil Linked To Alzheimer’s Disease

Canola oil, known as rapeseed oil in the UK, was linked to poor learning, weight gain and possibly Alzheimer’s.

Canola oil, known as rapeseed oil in the UK, was linked to poor learning, weight gain and possibly Alzheimer’s.

Canola oil — a widely used vegetable oil — has been linked to memory problems and possibly Alzheimer’s disease by research.

One of the most widely consumed oils in the world, relatively little is known about canola oil’s effect on health.

The study, though, from Temple University in the US, showed canola oil was linked to poor learning and weight gain in a mouse model.

The findings are in contrast to extra virgin olive oil which studies find is beneficial for brain health.

Professor Domenico Praticò, Director of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, said:

“Canola oil is appealing because it is less expensive than other vegetable oils, and it is advertised as being healthy.

Very few studies, however, have examined that claim, especially in terms of the brain.”

Canola oil and Alzheimer’s

The study compared mice on a normal diet with those given a human-equivalent dose of two teaspoons a day.

After 12 months the mice fed canola oil weighed more and had memory problems.

Their brain tissue also revealed lower levels of amyloid beta 1-40.

Dr. Praticò explained that low levels of this protein are bad for the brain:

“Amyloid beta 1-40 neutralizes the actions of amyloid 1-42, which means that a decrease in 1-40, like the one observed in our study, leaves 1-42 unchecked.

In our model, this change in ratio resulted in considerable neuronal damage, decreased neural contacts, and memory impairment.”

Dr. Praticò continued:

“Even though canola oil is a vegetable oil, we need to be careful before we say that it is healthy.

Based on the evidence from this study, canola oil should not be thought of as being equivalent to oils with proven health benefits.”

Previous similar studies have shown that olive oil is beneficial for brain health.

Dr. Praticò is hoping to test the effects of canola oil on other neurodegenerative diseases:

“We also want to know whether the negative effects of canola oil are specific for Alzheimer’s disease.

There is a chance that the consumption of canola oil could also affect the onset and course of other neurodegenerative diseases or other forms of dementia.”

The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports (Lauretti et al., 2017).

How To Prevent Brain Shrinking With Age

Normally people’s brains shrink by about 5% every decade after the age of 40 but this could be prevented.

Normally people’s brains shrink by about 5% every decade after the age of 40 but this could be prevented.

Exercise increases brain size and so may help stop brain shrinkage with age, a study finds.

In some of the best evidence to date, exercise was shown to increase the size of the hippocampus, a brain structure critical for memory and other functions.

So far, studies have mostly shown the connection between exercise and brain size in rodents.

Shrinking brain size

Researchers followed people aged 24 to 76 for up to two years in a range of separate studies.

They looked at the effects of walking, cycling, treadmill running and general aerobic exercise.

Most people did around 2-5 sessions per week.

The results showed that left hippocampul volume was increased in people who exercised.

Dr Joseph Firth, the study’s first author, said:

“When you exercise you produce a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which may help to prevent age-related decline by reducing the deterioration of the brain.

Our data showed that, rather than actually increasing the size of the hippocampus per se, the main ‘brain benefits’ are due to aerobic exercise slowing down the deterioration in brain size.

In other words, exercise can be seen as a maintenance program for the brain.”

Preventing brain shrinking with age is possible

The study reviewed 14 separate clinical trials, including brain scans from 737 people.

This is some of the most definitive evidence yet published of the beneficial effects of exercise on brain health.

Normally people’s brains shrink by about 5% every decade after the age of 40.

Exercise is one of the few interventions proven to slow this process down.

The study was published in the journal NeuroImage (Firth et al., 2018).

Loss Of Smell Is An Early Sign of Dementia

Loss of smell is an early sign of dementia because the the olfactory bulb is one of the first brain regions to be affected by dementia.

Loss of smell is an early sign of dementia because the the olfactory bulb is one of the first brain regions to be affected by dementia.

Losing your sense of smell is an early sign of dementia, research finds.

Almost all the people in the research who could not identify any of five common smells went on to develop dementia within five years.

Those who could not name four out of five common smells, had twice the risk of developing dementia in the next five years.

Professor Jayant M. Pinto, who led the research, said:

“These results show that the sense of smell is closely connected with brain function and health.

We think smell ability specifically, but also sensory function more broadly, may be an important early sign, marking people at greater risk for dementia.”

Professor Pinto continued:

“We need to understand the underlying mechanisms, so we can understand neurodegenerative disease and hopefully develop new treatments and preventative interventions.

Loss of the sense of smell is a strong signal that something has gone wrong and significant damage has been done.

This simple smell test could provide a quick and inexpensive way to identify those who are already at high risk.”

Loss of smell and dementia study

The researchers used a tool called “Sniffin’Sticks”, which look like a normal marker pen.

They found that out of almost 3,000 people aged 57 – 85, 78.1% could identify four or five out of five of the smells.

Other studies have also shown that loss of sense of smell is linked to dementia.

It is because the part of the brain that deals with smell (the olfactory bulb) is one of the first to be affected by dementia.

Professor Pinto said:

“Our test simply marks someone for closer attention.

Much more work would need to be done to make it a clinical test.

But it could help find people who are at risk.

Then we could enroll them in early-stage prevention trials.

Of all human senses, smell is the most undervalued and underappreciated – until it’s gone.”

The study was published in the  Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (Adams et al., 2017).

Six Minutes To Better Memory: Exercise Boosts BDNF And Resists Brain Aging

Just six minutes of exercise improves memory while reducing the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Just six minutes of exercise improves memory while reducing the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

The reward for doing 6 minutes of high-intensity workout is a brain that is more resilient to aging, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

According to a study, short intervals of vigorous exercise improve the production of a protein involved in brain function related to memory, learning, and flexibility.

Our brain has the ability to learn, adapt, and function through a process known as neuroplasticity.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is the particular protein that boosts neuroplasticity and protects neurons.

Past research has suggested that higher levels of BDNF enhance memory storage, memory formation, improve learning processes, and increase cognitive function.

BDNF’s capability of protecting nerve cells has encouraged researchers to find out if this protein can slow brain aging.

Mr Travis Gibbons, the study’s first author, said:

“BDNF has shown great promise in animal models, but pharmaceutical interventions have thus far failed to safely harness the protective power of BDNF in humans.

We saw the need to explore non-pharmacological approaches that can preserve the brain’s capacity which humans can use to naturally increase BDNF to help with healthy aging.”

The team wanted to see if either calorie restriction or exercise or both have any effect on BDNF production.

For this, they compared the factors below to examine the solo and joint impacts:

  • 90 minutes of low-intensity cycling
  • Six minutes of high-intensity cycling intervals
  • Fasting for 20 hours
  • Fasting with exercise

Short but vigorous exercise appeared to be the most effective approach for elevating BDNF levels compared with light exercise or fasting with or without prolonged low-intensity workouts.

The 6-minute high-intensity workouts increased serum concentration of BDNF by five times.

Prolonged low-intensity cycling showed a slight increase in serum levels, from 336 pg/L to 390 pg/L, while fasting had no effect.

Such contrasting findings might be due to a cerebral substrate switch, the brain’s fuel source shifting from glucose to either ketone bodies or lactate.

It appears that the brain switches from glucose to lactate during exercise, leading to production of BDNF, while fasting causes an increase in ketone body delivery to the brain.

Platelets are tiny blood cells that store BDNF and exercise increased numbers of platelets by 20 percent compared to fasting.

The team also want to find out whether intermittent fasting with exercise would have a greater influence on BDNF and cognitive functions.

Mr Travis Gibbons, added:

“We are now studying how fasting for longer durations, for example up to three days, influences BDNF.

We are curious whether exercising hard at the start of a fast accelerates the beneficial effects of fasting.

Fasting and exercise are rarely studied together.

We think fasting and exercise can be used in conjunction to optimize BDNF production in the human brain.”

The study was published in the journal The Journal of Physiology (Gibbons et al., 2023).

Best Supplement To Improve IQ By 10%

Best IQ supplement for older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Best IQ supplement for older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — an omega-3 fatty acid — can improve IQ by 10 percent, research finds.

People in the study, who were aged over 65, were given 2g/day of DHA for a year.

A control group was given a placebo of corn oil.

The high quality study involved 240 Chinese individuals.

Their IQ and other measures of cognitive function were tested after 6 and 12 months.

The study’s authors explain the results:

“…oral DHA supplementation (2 g/d) for 12 months beneficially affected global cognitive function, specifically participants’ performance on the Information and Digit Span tasks.”

Brain scans also revealed changes in the hippocampus, an area of the brain critical for memory.

The study’s authors write:

“The hippocampus is a critical brain region for memory formation and plays important roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and spatial navigation.


Our results suggest that 12-month DHA supplementation significantly increased hippocampus volume.

Notably, we observed a 6.13% volume increase in the left hippocampus, a 1.89% increase in the right hippocampus, and a 0.29% increase in total hippocampus.

Best supplement combination?

The use of omega-3 to prevent dementia has provided some mixed results.

B vitamins also seem to be important in warding off cognitive decline.

A recent study found that B vitamins combined with omega-3 can help slow mental decline in older people with memory problems.

The study’s first author, Dr Abderrahim Oulhaj explained the results:

‘We found that for people with low levels of Omega-3, the vitamin supplements had little to no effect.

But for those with high baseline Omega-3 levels, the B vitamins were very effective in preventing cognitive decline compared to the placebo.

Other studies, though, have been less positive about the benefits of omega-3 for cognitive decline.

It is likely that the combination of nutrients — including both B vitamins and omega-3 will turn out to be the crucial factor.

→ Related:

The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (Zhang et al., 2016).

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