from the world's big
Researchers at University College London link waist circumference with dementia.
- Researchers at University College London have discovered a link between waist circumference and dementia.
- Seventy-four percent of volunteers that developed dementia were overweight or obese.
- Women with central obesity had a 39 percent greater risk of dementia.
Mediterranean Diet Has Huge Health Benefits, New Study Finds | The New York Times<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f003c82b77eb38381dedb83ebf2e802a"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_JiKXdZwiIg?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Co-author Andrew Steptoe, a professor of psychology and epidemiology at the university, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/23/health/belly-fat-dementia-link-wellness/index.html" target="_blank">sums up</a> the team's work:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Dementia is one of the major health challenges of the 21st century that could threaten successful aging of the population. Our findings suggest that rising obesity rates will compound the issue."</p><p>Dr. Dorina Cadar, a senior fellow at UCL and corresponding author of the study, suggests monitoring both BMI and WC status. Her suggestions include following a Mediterranean diet, reducing alcohol consumption, and regular exercise. </p><p>Dr. Richard Isaacson, the director of the Alzheimer's Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/23/health/belly-fat-dementia-link-wellness/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> that brain health and waist size are linked, especially for women.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Based on emerging data from studies like this, we are now able to clarify sex differences in dementia risk. Combining these findings with my clinical experience, I have seen greater impact on visceral fat on memory function in women, likely mediated by metabolic pathways."</p><p>This is another in a long list of studies linking obesity to cognitive problems, and serves as a reminder as to why <a href="https://bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/does-lack-of-exercise-lead-to-dementia" target="_self">exercise</a> and <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/intermittent-fasting" target="_self">nutrition</a> remain your best defense against dementia. Regardless of the conveniences of modern society, human beings evolved during times of scarcity. We're not built for excess. Our brains pay the price when we indulge. </p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
The Alzheimer's Association says its new analysis and surveys "should sound an alarm regarding the future of dementia care in America."
- By 2050, the number of Americans over age 65 with Alzheimer's is expected to rise from 5.8 to 13.8 million.
- A new report from the Alzheimer's Association highlights how the already-stressed U.S. healthcare system is not prepared to meet this surge.
- There's currently no cure for Alzheimer's, which is a degenerative and potentially deadly form of dementia.
The front lines of diagnosing & treating Alzheimer's<p>A broad array of practitioners help to treat Alzheimer's, including physicians, nurses, neuropsychologists, and allied health care professionals such as occupational and physical therapists and home health aides, the report notes. Primary care physicians are generally considered to be on the "front lines" of treating and diagnosing the disease. But over-relying on primary care physicians comes with costs.</p><p>The report notes:</p><ul><li>The vast majority of older Americans diagnosed with dementia never see a dementia care specialist and are overwhelmingly diagnosed and cared for by non-specialists.</li><li>85% of people first diagnosed with dementia were diagnosed by a non-dementia specialist physician, usually a primary care physician.</li><li>More than half of PCPs say there are not enough specialists to receive patient referrals.</li></ul>
The Alzheimer's Association<p>What's especially alarming is that some primary care physicians aren't comfortable being on the front lines. The survey found that 39 percent of PCPs reported "never or only sometimes being comfortable personally making a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or other dementias." That's a problem, considering Alzheimer's treatments are more beneficial if the disease is diagnosed early.</p>
The Alzheimer's Association<p>The Alzheimer's Association <a href="https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/diagnosis/why-get-checked#:~:text=An%20early%20Alzheimer's%20diagnosis%20provides,and%20may%20provide%20medical%20benefits." target="_blank">notes</a> that an early diagnosis allows patients the option to start taking medication for symptoms, make lifestyle changes, and participate in clinical trials. What's more, diagnosing Alzheimer's as early as possible would likely save the U.S. trillions in medical and long-term care costs for the degenerative disease, which can cause memory loss, cognitive impairment, hallucinations, and eventually death.</p><p>So, how can the U.S. prepare for the influx of Alzheimer's patients, besides continuing to search for a cure? The Alzheimer's Association report recommended several policy strategies that could help meet future demand:</p><ul><li>Offer scholarship and loan forgiveness programs, which incentivize people to attend medical and nursing schools, and to practice in rural areas.</li><li>Boost educational funding: "For example, federal funding of departments of family medicine at U.S. medical schools is associated with an expansion of the primary care workforce."</li><li>Support programs that build capacity in primary care: "One example is Project ECHO® (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), a highly successful tele-mentoring program for health care providers developed by the University of New Mexico. Project ECHO has been shown to improve primary care for multiple diseases, including hepatitis C606 and complex diabetes."</li></ul>
The assumption "that without memory, there can be no self" is wrong, say researchers.
In the past when scholars have reflected on the psychological impact of dementia they have frequently referred to the loss of the "self" in dramatic and devastating terms, using language such as the "unbecoming of the self" or the "disintegration" of the self. In a new review released as a preprint at PsyArXiv, an international team of psychologists led by Muireann Irish at the University of Sydney challenge this bleak picture which they attribute to the common, but mistaken, assumption "that without memory, there can be no self" (as encapsulated by the line from Hume: "Memory alone… 'tis to be considered… as the source of personal identity").
This means the disease may be curable and a vaccine possible.
- Bacteria in periodontitis seems to be the culprit.
- Reported amyloid and tau buildups may be a response, not a cause.
- Compelling research offers a genuine reason for optimism.
Has the role of protein deposits in patients’ brains been misunderstood?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTEyMTYyOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMTY2Njg4N30.hCgY7D0UeFqKN-KZR10cs79fOel074DmOHdTivqw5PA/img.jpg?width=980" id="bcce3" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0e9fb798b6a34ce4c1435c84613e4d8f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Brain exhibiting plaque build-up, in blue. Image source: NIH Image Gallery<p>It's been known for a while that the brains of Alzheimer's victims have unusually high amounts of amyloid and tau proteins.This has led, naturally, to a suspicion that these proteins cause the disease. However, it turns out that some older people with exceptionally good memories have <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/2112820-superagers-with-amazing-memories-have-alzheimers-brain-plaques/" target="_blank" data-vivaldi-spatnav-clickable="1">significant amounts</a> of amyloid and tau proteins in their brains. This has called into question their causal role in the disease, and has led scientists to investigations of the possibility that the proteins may be appearing as a <em>response</em> to the actual culprit.</p>
Gum disease in mice<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTEyMTYzMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDIyNDMxNn0.c8Y12VYxaG_fi-eFZPGRO1dHMZycneh73exsr4WYDkA/img.jpg?width=980" id="61579" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ed4a53f109c3fcbf5653c9fc64f3c79e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
P. gingivalis. Image source: NIH Image Gallery<p>Research from 2009 had identified a gum-disease bacteria, <em>P. gingivalis IgG</em>, as a frequent malady of Alzheimers suffers and frequently present in their brains. It was unclear, however, whether the patients' periodontitis had something to do with the disease or was simply a condition sufferers acquired after its onset.</p><p>A number of research teams conducted <em>P. gingivalis</em> experiments and found that its presence worsens Alzheimer's symptoms — including amyloid buildup — in mice bred to have the disease, and actually causes Alzheimer's in healthy mice.</p>
An early clue<p> A few years back, Massachusetts General Hospital's <a href="https://www.massgeneral.org/neurology/research/researchlab.aspx?id=1419" target="_blank">Robert Moir</a> started looking into the behaviors of a particular sequence of amino acids in <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amyloid_beta" target="_blank" data-vivaldi-spatnav-clickable="1">beta amyloids</a>. It exists in 70 percent of vertebrates, as well as some other animals, intriguing Moir, who told <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/2090221-alzheimers-may-be-caused-by-brains-sticky-defence-against-bugs/" target="_blank" data-vivaldi-spatnav-clickable="1"><em>New Scientist</em></a>, "This is a very old peptide doing something that's important." He found that the protein was a bacterial microbe killer. This suggested that the familiar buildups could be defending the brain against invading bacteria.</p>
The smoking gun<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTEyMTYzMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNDg0MzY4M30.daBFzFFjmvjDXBBNy6rDdqTbHJN0h00_si2STqi4X8o/img.jpg?width=980" id="3ea3f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f99e3e2515b915de9924ba903d4f3b09" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
(Dominy, et al)<p>The new study, which was published in <em>Science Advances</em> on January 23, reveals that toxic enzymes, gingipains, which allow <em>P. gingivalis</em> to feed on human flesh, were found in 96 percent of the tissue they examined from 54 Alzheimers' victims. Also, when they examined the DNA of three Alzheimer brains they found the <em>P gingivalis</em> in them all. Researcher <a href="https://www.uclan.ac.uk/staff_profiles/dr_sim_k_singhrao.php" target="_blank" data-vivaldi-spatnav-clickable="1">Sim Singhrao</a> of University of Central Lancashire, not involved in the study, tells <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/2191814-we-may-finally-know-what-causes-alzheimers-and-how-to-stop-it/" target="_blank" data-vivaldi-spatnav-clickable="1"><em>New Scientist</em></a>, "This is the first report showing<em> P. gingivalis</em> DNA in human brains, and the associated gingipains, co-lococalising with plaques."</p><p>As further confirmation, there was more of both the bacteria and its gingipains — and amyloid and tau buildup — in patients experiencing more advanced dementia.</p><p>The study also found that the gingipains mangle tau proteins so that they begin killing neurons. The result? Dementia.</p>
What this means<p>Altogether, this may finally be the Alzheimer's breakthrough scientists have been waiting for.</p><ul><li>First off, the researchers discovered <em>P. gingivalis</em> in the spinal fluid of living patients, suggesting a means of early diagnosis since Alzheimer's may take from 10 to 20 years to develop before becoming symptomatic.<span></span></li></ul><ul><li>Second, the bacteria may be vulnerable to treatment. Pharmaceutical firm <a href="https://www.cortexyme.com/single-post/2019/01/23/Cortexyme-announces-publication-of-foundational-data-for-groundbreaking-approach-to-treating-Alzheimers-disease-in-Science-Advances" target="_blank" data-vivaldi-spatnav-clickable="1">Cortexyme</a> is testing gingipain blockers that has resulted in improvement for Alzheimer's patients. Larger trials are imminent.<span></span></li></ul><ul><li>Third, <a href="https://www.mtpconnect.org.au/Article?Action=View&Article_id=55" target="_blank" data-vivaldi-spatnav-clickable="1">another team</a> in Melbourne, Australia is working on a vaccine against gum disease and thus Alzheimer's.</li></ul>
The beginning of the end of Alzheimer’s?<p>We've gotten our hopes up before, but the new research provides genuine reason for optimism. The cause of this tragic condition may finally have been identified. As Cortexyme's Casey Lynch says, "We believe this is a universal hypothesis of pathogenesis."</p>
One patient retained the ability to dress herself, make a simple meal, and even change her plans depending on the weather.
Electrical brain stimulation has been shown to boost memory and enhance learning. Now, scientists have turned their sights on neurodegenerative diseases. Researchers at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, found they could delay cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s by using deep brain stimulation. This could allow such patients to be independent for a longer period of time. Their results were published in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.