How Oral Health Affects Brain Health (M)

Bacteria related to gum disease can travel from the mouth to the brain.

Bacteria related to gum disease can travel from the mouth to the brain.

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This Personality Trait Raises Dementia Risk 48%

The scientists followed over one thousand twins in Sweden over 28 years.

The scientists followed over one thousand twins in Sweden over 28 years.

People who have experienced high levels of anxiety in their lives have a 48 percent higher risk of developing dementia.

Dr Andrew Petkus, who led the study, said:

“Anxiety, especially in older adults, has been relatively understudied compared to depression.

Depression seems more evident in adulthood, but it’s usually episodic.

Anxiety, though, tends to be a chronic lifelong problem, and that’s why people tend to write off anxiety as part of someone’s personality.”

The scientists followed over one thousand twins in Sweden over 28 years.

Each pair were tested every three years and screened for dementia symptoms.

Amongst identical twins, it was the more anxious of the pair that was at a higher risk of developing dementia.

This is the first study to find a link between anxiety and a higher risk of developing dementia.

Professor Margaret Gatz, a co-author of the study, described those in the high-anxiety group:

“They are people who you would say operate at a ‘high level of anxiety’.

They are frantic, frazzled people.

Those in the high anxiety group were about 1.5 times more likely to develop dementia.”

The link between anxiety and dementia could be a result of cortisol — the so-called ‘stress hormone’ — damaging the brain.

There may also be genetic factors that help explain the link.

The study was published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia (Petkus et al., 2016).

A Personality Change Like This May Signal Dementia

The personality changes came ahead of more obvious behavioural changes linked to Alzheimer’s.

The personality changes came ahead of more obvious behavioural changes linked to Alzheimer’s.

Increases in neuroticism may help to predict the onset of Alzheimer’s, new research finds.

Neuroticism is one of the five major personality traits and it involves a tendency towards worry and moodiness.

Neuroticism is characterised by negative thinking in a range of areas.

Neuroticism is strongly linked to anxiety, sadness, irritability and self-consciousness.

People who transition from mild cognitive impairment to full-blown Alzheimer’s are more likely to show personality changes.

Many people with mild cognitive impairment do not go on to develop dementia.

Both increased neuroticism and lower openness to experience predict the progression of the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease.

The conclusions come from a study that followed people for more than 7 years.

They were tested for personality, anxiety, depression and other symptoms.

The researchers found that personality changes typically came after memory had begun to worsen.

Increases in depression, anxiety and anger were strongly linked to the transition to dementia.

However, the personality changes came before typical behaviour changes — such as like mood swings — were obvious.

The study’s authors write that Alzheimer’s disease is…

“…characterized by greater neuroticism and less openness; and coincide with subtle, clinically insignificant behavioral changes that qualitatively mirror and anticipate the clinically severe behavioral problems that often complicate dementia care.”

The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (Caselli et al., 2018).

A New Drug Slows Alzheimer’s By One-Third (M)

Patients were also 40 percent less likely to progress from mild cognitive impairment to full-blown dementia after taking the drug.

Patients were also 40 percent less likely to progress from mild cognitive impairment to full-blown dementia after taking the drug.

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The Popular Drink Linked To Cognitive Decline — Yet Again

While the drink used to be thought safe for brain health, the latest research finds otherwise.

While the drink used to be thought safe for brain health, the latest research finds otherwise.

Drinking as little as three glasses of wine or three cans of beer per week is linked to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, research finds.

People who drank more than this amount of any alcohol, the study found, had elevated levels of iron in their brains.

Iron accumulation has been found in both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease and may help to explain cognitive decline.

The research included over 20,000 people included in the UK Biobank study.

All had reported their alcohol consumption and had their brains scanned, while 7,000 had had MRIs of their livers to assess iron levels.

Average alcohol intake was around 18 UK units, which is equivalent to over 7 cans of beer or 6 large glasses of wine.

The results showed that anything above 7 units per week was linked to high levels of iron in the basal ganglia, a group of neurons involved in a whide range of cognitive functions, such as learning, movement and the emotions.

Dr Anya Topiwala, the study’s first author, said:

“In the largest study to date, we found drinking greater than 7 units of alcohol weekly associated with iron accumulation in the brain.

Higher brain iron in turn linked to poorer cognitive performance.

Iron accumulation could underlie alcohol-related cognitive decline.”

In the US, 7 units is this is about 4 standard drinks, which are 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine or 1.5 oz of a distilled spirit.

Reassessing alcohol’s effect on the brain

While moderate drinking used to be thought safe for brain health, the latest research finds otherwise.

Lower and lower amounts of alcohol have been linked to cognitive decline and neurodegeneration.

For example, as little as one alcoholic drink per day has been linked to brain shrinkage.

People who have as little as a glass of wine or pint of beer each day show greater signs of brain shrinkage with age.

Averaging four drinks a day was linked by this study to the equivalent of 10 years of brain aging.

The more people drink, therefore, the stronger the association gets between alcohol and brain shrinkage.

Even low levels of alcohol intake can damage memory, problem-solving skills and the ability to read emotions.

And alcohol continues to cause brain damage even six weeks after giving it up.

The study was published in the journal PLOS Medicine (Topiwala et al., 2022).

The Best Type Of Exercise To Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease (M)

The exercise is anti-inflammatory and reduces levels of stress hormones.

The exercise is anti-inflammatory and reduces levels of stress hormones.

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This Close Relationship Reduces Dementia Risk By 42%

Approaching 1 million people were included in the research.

Approaching 1 million people were included in the research.

Marriage can reduce the risk of developing dementia by 42 percent, research finds.

The conclusions come from 15 studies published over many years involving over 800,000 people in three continents.

The results showed that compared with married people, lifelong singletons were 42 percent more likely to develop dementia.

People who were widowed had a 20 percent increased chance of developing dementia.

Divorce, though, was not linked to an increased risk of dementia.

More recent studies included in the review suggest the benefit from being married is reducing, although it is not clear why.

The protective effect of marriage could be down to couples helping each other live healthier lives.

They may exercise more, eat a healthier diet and get more social stimulation.

The study’s authors conclude:

“Being married is associated with reduced risk of dementia than widowed and lifelong single people, who are also underdiagnosed in routine clinical practice.

Dementia prevention in unmarried people should focus on education and physical health and should consider the possible effect of social engagement as a modifiable risk factor.”

The study was published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry (Sommerlad et al., 2018).

This Personality Trait Cuts Alzheimer’s Risk In Half

A study of hundreds of nuns and monks reveals which trait cuts Alzheimer’s risk in half.

A study of hundreds of nuns and monks reveals which trait cuts Alzheimer’s risk in half.

Being conscientious cuts the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in half, research finds.

People who are conscientious tend to be more organised, responsible and in control of their impulses.

The study’s authors explain:

“Conscientiousness (eg, “I am a productive person who always gets the job done”) refers to a tendency to be self-disciplined, scrupulous, and purposeful.”

They are also more likely to follow through on their duties and obligations.

The study of hundreds of nuns and monks found that those who were more productive and reliable were less likely to be affected by Alzheimer’s.

People high on conscientiousness were also more likely to experience a slower cognitive decline with age and lower risk of mild cognitive impairment (a risk factor for Alzheimer’s).

The results come from a study of 997 elderly nuns, priests and monks, none of whom had dementia at the start of the study.

Many were followed up for more than a decade.

The brains of those that died were examined for markers of Alzheimer’s.

The study revealed that those with the highest levels of conscientiousness were at an 89% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s compared to those with the lowest levels.

Surprisingly, the results could not be explained by conscientious people living more healthily.

Instead, the authors write that it could be partly down to education:

“…conscientiousness is a consistent predictor of academic and occupational performance.

Both level of educational and occupational attainment and the nature of occupational experiences have been associated with risk of AD.

Highly conscientious people may have a more intensive exposure to these educational and occupational experiences than less conscientious individuals and thereby derive additional benefit.”

Being conscientious may also buffer against life stress, they write:

“Conscientiousness is associated with a higher level of resilience and greater reliance on task-oriented coping.

These factors might lessen the adverse consequences of negative life events and chronic psychological distress, which have been associated with risk of dementia in old age.”

The study was published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry (Wilson et al., 2007).

How Simple Vibrations Could Help Treat Alzheimer’s (M)

The study is the latest in a line of research suggesting that gamma waves in different modalities could help fight Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia.

The study is the latest in a line of research suggesting that gamma waves in different modalities could help fight Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia.

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The Personality Change That Is A Dementia Warning Sign

The results showed that people whose personality changed in this way were more likely to develop dementia.

The results showed that people whose personality changed in this way were more likely to develop dementia.

Apathy is an early warning sign of dementia in people with cerebrovascular disease, research finds.

Apathy may result from damage to the brain’s white matter, which is primarily used for communication between regions of the brain.

Cerebrovascular disease occurs in around one-in-three older people and is the most common cause of vascular dementia.

Vascular dementia is the next most common type of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, accounting for up to 10 percent of cases.

Older people who show a new lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern are at greater risk of developing dementia, the study found.

Previously it was thought that depression was a warning sign of dementia, but this study does not support that conclusion.

Mr Jonathan Tay, the study’s first author, said:

“There has been a lot of conflicting research on the association between late-life depression and dementia.

Our study suggests that may partially be due to common clinical depression scales not distinguishing between depression and apathy.”

The study included over 450 people from the UK and the Netherlands who were tracked for several years.

The results showed that people whose apathy increased over time were more likely to develop dementia.

Mr Tay said:

“Continued monitoring of apathy may be used to assess changes in dementia risk and inform diagnosis.

Individuals identified as having high apathy, or increasing apathy over time, could be sent for more detailed clinical examinations, or be recommended for treatment.”

The researchers think that similar mechanisms underlie cognition and motivation.

Mr Tay said:

“This implies that apathy is not a risk factor for dementia per se, but rather an early symptom of white matter network damage.

Understanding these relationships better could have major implications for the diagnosis and treatment of patients in the future.”

The study was published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry (Tay et al., 2020).

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