The #1 Avoidable Risk Factor For Early-Onset Dementia

The damage done by this risk factor was particularly striking for early-onset dementia: that which occurs before 65-years-old.

The damage done by this risk factor was particularly striking for early-onset dementia: that which occurs before 65-years-old.

Alcohol is the biggest avoidable risk factor for dementia, according to research.

The conclusions come from over 1 million people diagnosed with dementia in France.

The damage done by alcohol was particularly striking for early-onset dementia: that which occurs before 65-years-old.

Of the 57,000 cases of early-onset dementia in the sample, 57% were related to chronic heavy drinking.

Heavy drinkers are defined as those consuming an average of 4-5 standard US drinks per day for a man, or 3 standard US drinks for a woman.

This is like drinking close to a bottle of wine per day for a man or over half a bottle per day for a woman.

While this study only looked at heavy drinking, others have suggested moderate alcohol intake also carries risk for the brain.

Dr Jürgen Rehm, study co-author, said:

“The findings indicate that heavy drinking and alcohol use disorders are the most important risk factors for dementia, and especially important for those types of dementia which start before age 65, and which lead to premature deaths.

Alcohol-induced brain damage and dementia are preventable, and known-effective preventive and policy measures can make a dent into premature dementia deaths.”

Alcohol use disorders are thought to shorten life by an average of 20 years.

The link between heavy drinking and alcohol may be even stronger than this study reveals as only the most severe cases were included in this study.

Dr Bruce Pollock, study co-author, said:

“As a geriatric psychiatrist, I frequently see the effects of alcohol use disorder on dementia, when unfortunately alcohol treatment interventions may be too late to improve cognition.

Screening for and reduction of problem drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders need to start much earlier in primary care.”

The study was published in the journal The Lancet Public Health (Schwarzinger et al., 2018).

The Belief That Cuts Dementia Risk In Half

The simple belief about old age that halves your dementia risk.

The simple belief about old age that halves your dementia risk.

Having a positive attitude towards ageing can half the risk of developing dementia, research finds.

People with the strongest genetic risk factor for depression — the ε4 variant of the APOE gene — were 49.8 percent less likely to develop the disease compared to those with a negative view of ageing.

For those without the genetic risk factor, those with positive beliefs about ageing had a 43.6 percent lower chance of developing dementia.

Professor Becca Levy, the study’s first author, said:

“We found that positive age beliefs can reduce the risk of one of the most established genetic risk factors of dementia.

This makes a case for implementing a public health campaign against ageism, which is a source of negative age beliefs.”

The study followed 4,765 people with an average age of 72 over four years — none of them had dementia at the start of the study.

All were asked about their attitudes towards ageing.

For example, they were asked how much they agreed with statements like “The older I get, the more useless I feel”.

Among those testing positive for high genetic risk, 6.1% with more negative attitudes towards ageing developed dementia.

In comparison, only 2.7 percent of people with a positive attitude towards ageing developed dementia.

Research has shown that people’s attitudes towards ageing can be changed, the authors write:

“Short- and long-term randomized controlled interventions conducted with older participants have shown that positive age beliefs can be bolstered and negative age beliefs can be mitigated with corresponding changes in cognitive and physical performance.”

Thinking positively about ageing may help to reduce the built up of damaging proteins in the brain linked to dementia.

The study’s authors write:

“The positive age beliefs of older individuals appear to provide a means of coping with exposure to ageism which is prevalent in society.

It has been shown that older participants in a positive-age-belief intervention interpreted their environment in a more age-friendly way.

The reduction of stress by positive age beliefs could potentially contribute to a lower incidence of dementia among older individuals in general and specifically among those with APOE ε4.”

The study was published in the journal PLoS One (Levy et al., 2018).

4 Key Antioxidant Deficiencies In Brains With Alzheimer’s (M)

The antioxidants are found in abundance in certain types of plants.

The antioxidants are found in abundance in certain types of plants.

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The Familiar Pill That Reduces Dementia Risk By 13%

Treating this condition in mid- or later life can halt dementia.

Treating this condition in mid- or later life can halt dementia.

Medication to lower blood pressure reduces the risk of dementia by around 13 percent, the strongest evidence yet finds.

Currently, there are very few dementia treatments on the market, therefore finding that lowering blood pressure can significantly reduce the disease or stop its progression is of practical benefit.

Dr Ruth Peters, the study’s first author, said:

“Given population ageing and the substantial costs of caring for people with dementia, even a small reduction could have considerable global impact.

Our study suggests that using readily available treatments to lower blood pressure is currently one of our ‘best bets’ to tackle this insidious disease.”

About 60 million people live with dementia and the condition is rapidly increasing amongst older population at such a rate that it will have tripled by 2050.

According to Dr Peters, while numerous clinical trials have shown the beneficial effects of lowering blood pressure on heart disease and stroke risk, its effect on dementia has not been identified.

Dr Peters said:

“Most trials were stopped early because of the significant impact of blood pressure lowering on cardiovascular events, which tend to occur earlier than signs of dementia.”

The team analysed five trials, each using a different treatment to lower blood pressure of 28,000 older adults across 20 countries.

The participants were followed over four years.

Dr Peters said:

“We found there was a significant effect of treatment in lowering the odds of dementia associated with a sustained reduction in blood pressure in this older population.

Our results imply a broadly linear relationship between blood pressure reduction and lower risk of dementia, regardless of which type of treatment was used.”

The authors believe this finding can help improve public health strategies in decreasing the risk of dementia and its progression.

Dr Peters said:

“Our study provides the highest grade of available evidence to show that blood pressure lowering treatment over several years reduces the risk of dementia, and we did not see any evidence of harm.

But what we still don’t know is whether additional blood pressure lowering in people who already have it well-controlled or starting treatment earlier in life would reduce the long-term risk of dementia.”

The study was published in the European Heart Journal (Peters et al., 2022).

This Probiotic Reduces Mild Cognitive Impairment Symptoms (M)

The probiotic has been investigated in over 250 clinical trials.

The probiotic has been investigated in over 250 clinical trials.

Probiotics help prevent mild declines in memory and thinking skills that typically occur with age, a study finds.

Older adults with mild cognitive impairment who took Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) for three months displayed improved cognition scores.

LGG has been investigated in over 250 clinical trials and there is some evidence it can be useful for treating irritable bowel syndrome and some other gastrointestinal issues.

Ms Mashael Aljumaah, the study’s first author, said:

“The implication of this finding is quite exciting, as it means that modifying the gut microbiome through probiotics could potentially be a strategy to improve cognitive performance, particularly in individuals with mild cognitive impairment.

This adds a new layer to our understanding of the microbiome brain-gut connection and opens up new avenues for combating cognitive decline associated with aging.”

Fighting memory problems

The experiment involved 169 people aged 52 to 75, some of whom had Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).

MCI is diagnosed when people have age-related problems with memory and thinking, but can still live independently.

People with MCI may go on to develop dementia, but some people never get worse and many improve.

Ms Aljumaah said:

“Many studies focus on severe forms of cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, but these conditions are more advanced, making them significantly harder to reverse or treat.

In contrast, we focused on mild cognitive impairment, which can include problems with memory, language, or judgment. Interventions at this stage of cognitive impairment could slow down or prevent the progression to more severe forms of dementia.”

Not only did the thinking skills of participants who took probiotics improve, the results showed, but changes were measured in the gut microbiome.

Microbes in the genus Prevotella decreased as people’s thinking skills increased.

Ms Aljumaah said:

“By identifying specific shifts in the gut microbiome associated with mild cognitive impairment, we’re exploring a new frontier in preventive strategies in cognitive health.

If these findings are replicated in future studies, it suggests the feasibility of using gut microbiome-targeted strategies as a novel approach to support cognitive health.”

It is not yet known how or why Prevotella interacts with brain health — that is what the researchers are working on next.

Related

The study was presented at Nutrition ’23 in Boston, MA (Aljumaah et al., 2023).

The Vitamin Deficiency Linked To Alzheimer’s And Dementia

Elderly people low in this vitamin were more than twice as likely to develop dementia.

Elderly people low in this vitamin were more than twice as likely to develop dementia.

Low levels of Vitamin D are substantially associated with developing Alzheimer’s and dementia in older people, according to research.

An international team of scientists used data from 1,685 elderly Americans who were followed for around five years (Littlejohns et al., 2014).

None had dementia problems at the start of the study, but after an average of five years, 171 had developed dementia, 102 of which were Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, found that amongst those who had dementia, those low in Vitamin D were 53% more likely to develop the disease.

Amongst those who were severely deficient, the risk increased by 125%.

Similar increases in risk were seen for Alzheimer’s disease: low levels of vitamin D increased risk by 69% and severe deficiency by 122%

Dr David Llewellyn of the University of Exeter Medical School, who led the study, said:

“We expected to find an association between low Vitamin D levels and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but the results were surprising — we actually found that the association was twice as strong as we anticipated.

Clinical trials are now needed to establish whether eating foods such as oily fish or taking vitamin D supplements can delay or even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

We need to be cautious at this early stage and our latest results do not demonstrate that low vitamin D levels cause dementia.

That said, our findings are very encouraging, and even if a small number of people could benefit, this would have enormous public health implications given the devastating and costly nature of dementia.”

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2 Personality Traits That Reduce Dementia Risk

People with these two personality traits lost less brain volume with age.

People with these two personality traits lost less brain volume with age.

People who are low in agreeableness are better protected against neuro-degeneration with age, research finds.

Similarly, people who are non-conformists and those who are more curious have less chance of developing dementia.

The study is not the first to show a link between personality and brain aging.

Previous research has also shown that being neurotic can double the risk of dementia.

For the current study, the researchers tracked 65 elderly people for over four years.

All were given tests including brain imaging and assessments of their thinking skills.

Professor Panteleimon Giannakopoulos, the study’s first author, said:

“In order to get as complete a picture as possible, we decided to look at the non-lesional determinants of brain damage, i.e. the environment, lifestyle and psychology.

So we conducted cognitive and personality assessments.”

The results showed that two personality traits were linked to a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia.

People with the two personality traits lost less brain volume with age, whether or not they developed dementia.

Being low in agreeableness is, essentially, the reverse of being ‘nice’, explained Professor Giannakopoulos:

“A high level of agreeableness characterizes highly adaptive personalities, who want above all to be in line with the wishes of others, to avoid conflict, and to seek cooperation.

This differs from extraversion.

You can be very extroverted and not very pleasant, as are narcissistic personalities, for example.

The important determinant is the relationship to the other: do we adapt to others at our own expenses?”

The second personality trait linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s was being open to experience.

People who are open to experience tend to be curious about the world and seek out knowledge.

Professor Giannakopoulos:

“This is less surprising, as we already knew that the desire to learn and interest in the world around us protects against cerebral ageing.”

Personality change tends to be hard, said Professor Giannakopoulos:

“If it seems difficult to profoundly change one’s personality, especially at an advanced age, taking this into account in a personalized medicine perspective is essential in order to weigh up all the protective and risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease. It is an important part of a complex puzzle.”

The study was published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging (Giannakopoulos et al., 2020).

This Common Drink Reduces Memory Loss Risk 70%

The common drink may help to delay dementia.

The common drink may help to delay dementia.

Drinking coffee is linked to a reduction in memory loss risk of up to 70%, research finds.

Three or more cups of coffee a day is associated with better memory over time than drinking only one cup.

Women over 80-years-old were 70% less likely to develop dementia if they drank three or more cups of coffee a day.

Those over 65 saw a drop in risk of 30% if they drank three or more cups.

The study included 7,017 people who were followed for four years.

Their cognitive performance was tested, along with their caffeine consumption.

The protective effect against memory loss was only seen in women in this study.

Dr Karen Ritchie, the study’s first author, said:

“Women may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

Their bodies may react differently to the stimulant, or they may metabolize caffeine differently.”

However, other studies have since shown neuroprotective effects in men as well.

Dr Karen Ritchie, the study’s first author, cautioned:

“While we have some ideas as to how this works biologically, we need to have a better understanding of how caffeine affects the brain before we can start promoting caffeine intake as a way to reduce cognitive decline.

But the results are interesting — caffeine use is already widespread and it has fewer side effects than other treatments for cognitive decline, and it requires a relatively small amount for a beneficial effect.”

While coffee seemed to have a neuroprotective effect, the rates of dementia were the same in people who drank coffee as those who did not.

This suggests caffeine may help to delay dementia, rather than preventing it.

Dr Ritchie said:

“We really need a longer study to look at whether caffeine prevents dementia; it might be that caffeine could slow the dementia process rather than preventing it.”

The study was published in the journal Neurology (Ritchie et al., 2007).

The Very Popular Food Linked To Brain Shrinkage

The shrinkage is linked to developing Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.

The shrinkage is linked to developing Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.

Excess sugar in the diet could lead to brain shrinkage, a study suggests.

A smaller brain is also linked to problems in old age, such as dementia.

All of the 249 people in the study had blood sugar levels in the normal range.

However, those with higher blood sugar levels were more likely to have less brain volume in key areas in the hippocampus (memory) and amygdala (emotion and cognition).

Shrinkage in both of these areas is also linked to developing Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.

Dr Nicolas Cherbuin, the study’s first author, said:

“Numerous studies have shown a link between type 2 diabetes and brain shrinkage and dementia, but we haven’t known much about whether people with blood sugar on the high end of normal experience these same effects.”

The researchers controlled for other factors that might have affected the relationship including smoking, high blood pressure and alcohol use.

Dr Cherbuin said:

“These findings suggest that even for people who do not have diabetes, blood sugar levels could have an impact on brain health.

More research is needed, but these findings may lead us to re-evaluate the concept of normal blood sugar levels and the definition of diabetes.”

The study was published in the journal Neurology (Cherbuin et al., 2012).

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