Posted by WBHI on Aug 21, 2012 in Think About It, Think Twice
by Natasja Sheriff for Reuters:
People who keep their teeth and gums healthy with regular brushing may have a lower risk of developing dementia later in life, according to a U.S. study.
Researchers at the University of California who followed nearly 5,500 elderly people over an 18-year-period found that those who reported brushing their teeth less than once a day were up to 65 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who brushed daily.
“Not only does the state of your mind predict what kind of oral health habits you practice, it may be that your oral health habits influence whether or not you get dementia,” said Annlia Paganini-Hill, who led the study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Inflammation stoked by gum disease-related bacteria is implicated in a host of conditions including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Posted by WBHI on Aug 15, 2012 in Great Minds Think Alike
by Daily Mail:
Learning how to meditate can help reduce loneliness in the elderly, say researchers.
Teaching elderly people to live in the present and not dwell on the past or project into the future can prove beneficial, according to their study. Many elderly people spend their last years alone as spouses pass and children scatter. But being lonely is much more than a silent house and a lack of companionship as over time, loneliness not only takes a toll on the psyche but can have a serious physical impact as well.
Feeling lonely has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and even premature death. Developing effective treatments to reduce loneliness in older adults is essential, but previous treatment efforts have had limited success.
Now Researchers at University of California, Los Angeles say a simple meditation program lasting just eight weeks reduced loneliness in older adults. Further, knowing that loneliness is associated with an increase in the activity of inflammation-related genes that can promote a variety of diseases, the researchers examined gene expression and found that this same form of meditation significantly reduced expression of inflammatory genes.
Posted by WBHI on Aug 2, 2012 in Think About It
by Christopher Fisher, PhD for BMED Report:
The greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is advancing age. By age 85, the likelihood of developing the dreaded neurological disorder is roughly 50 percent. But researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine say AD hits hardest among the “younger elderly” – people in their 60s and 70s – who show faster rates of brain tissue loss and cognitive decline than AD patients 80 years and older.
The findings, reported online in the August 2, 2012 issue of the journal PLOS One, have profound implications for both diagnosing AD – which currently afflicts an estimated 5.6 million Americans, a number projected to triple by 2050 – and efforts to find new treatments. There is no cure for AD and existing therapies do not slow or stop disease progression.
“One of the key features for the clinical determination of AD is its relentless progressive course,” said Dominic Holland, PhD, a researcher at the Department of Neurosciences at UC San Diego and the study’s first author. “Patients typically show marked deterioration year after year. If older patients are not showing the same deterioration from one year to the next, doctors may be hesitant to diagnose AD, and thus these patients may not receive appropriate care, which can be very important for their quality of life.”
by Michelle Fay Cortez for Businessweek:
Over the past 18 months, 81-year-old Bill Bunnell has visited the doctor a half-dozen times to take memory tests, provide blood samples, and undergo a spinal tap and imaging scans. It’s all part of the most extensive study ever conducted on Alzheimer’s.
Now researchers are about to take an even closer look at Bunnell, a retired engineer from Madison, Connecticut.
Working with $2 million in new grants to be announced this week, the researchers for the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative will, for the first time, start mapping the DNA of 800 participants in a study attempting to find the root causes of memory loss. The goal is to see if physical changes from Alzheimer’s can be matched to genetic disparities, which can then be compared with findings from healthy people like Bunnell.
Posted by WBHI on May 27, 2012 in Think About It, Think Twice
by Cole Petrochko for MedPage Today:
Early results show that eating a probiotic fermented product may have an effect on gut flora that actually leads to changes in the brain, researchers found.
A double-blind, controlled, parallel study of healthy female patients found that those who consumed probiotic-infused yogurt had a muted response from brain regions involved in emotional arousal and stressful gut signaling, according to data from Kirsten Tillisch, MD, of the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues reported at Digestive Disease Week.
“By changing the environment in the gut, we can actually change what happens in the brain,” Tillisch said in an interview with MedPage Today, cautioning, however, that the work is still in early stages.
Preclinical studies have demonstrated that changes in gut microbiota can alter central signaling mechanisms and emotional behavior. But these changes have never been shown in humans after modulation of gut microbiota with probiotics or antibiotics, the authors explained.
In July 2002 the publication of the first Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) report caused a dramatic drop in Menopausal Hormone Therapy (HT ) use throughout the world. Now a major reappraisal by international experts, published as a series of articles in the peer-reviewed journal Climacteric (the official journal of the International Menopause Society), shows how the evidence has changed over the last 10 years, and supports a return to a “rational use of HT, initiated near the menopause”.
The reappraisal has been carried out by some of the world’s leading experts in the field, including clinicians who worked on the original WHI study. Summarising the findings of the special issue, authors Robert Langer, JoAnn Manson, and Matthew Allison conclude that “classical use of HT” – MHT initiated near the menopause – will benefit most women who have indications including significant menopausal symptoms or osteoporosis.
by UC San Diego:
Researchers at the Comprehensive Alzheimer’s Program at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have announced two new clinical trials for patients with either mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and one trial for Mild Cognitive Impairment.
“Two of these studies represent an exciting new approach to treating Alzheimer’s, focusing on improving memory in patients with early symptoms of impaired memory and possibly slowing down the disease progression long before symptoms appear,” said Michael Rafii, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurosciences and director of the Memory Disorders Clinic at UC San Diego .
All three are randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies:
The first is a national clinical trial examining the effects of resveratrol – a compound found in red grapes or juice, red wine, chocolate, tomatoes and peanuts – on participants with mild to moderate dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. Pre-clinical and pilot clinical research studies suggest that resveratrol may prevent diabetes, act as a natural cancer fighter, ward off cardiovascular disease, and prevent memory loss, but there has been no large definitive study of its effects in humans.
New compounds have been found that disrupt the formation of amyloid—the clumps of protein in the brain thought to be important in causing the characteristic mental decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
The so-called “spin-labeled fluorene compounds” are an important new target for diagnosis and treatment of the disease, researchers say.
“We have found these small molecules to have significant beneficial effects on cultured neurons, from protecting against toxic compounds that form in neurons to reducing inflammatory factors,” says John C. Voss, professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine and the principal investigator of the study.
“As a result, they have great potential as a therapeutic agent to prevent or delay injury in individuals in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease, before significant damage to the brain occurs.”
Amyloid is an accumulation of proteins and peptides that are otherwise found naturally in the body. One component of amyloid—the amyloid beta (Aβ) peptide—is believed to be primarily responsible for destroying neurons in the brain.
Posted by WBHI on May 7, 2012 in Think It Over
by Market Watch for The Wall Street Journal
Depressive symptoms that occur in both midlife and late-life are associated with an increased risk of developing vascular dementia, while symptoms that occur in late-life only are more likely to be early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, according to University of California at San Francisco and Kaiser Permanente researchers.
The study, which appears in the current issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, is the first to examine whether midlife or late-life depression is more likely to lead to either Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia in the long term. The researchers explain that vascular dementia, the second most common type of dementia, develops when impaired blood flow to parts of the brain deprives cells of nutrients and oxygen.
“People who had depressive symptoms in both midlife and late-life were much more likely to develop vascular dementia, while those who had depressive symptoms in late-life only were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease,” said the study’s lead author Deborah E. Barnes, PhD, MPH, with the UCSF Departments of Psychiatry and Epidemiology & Biostatistics and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
by Denise Grady for The New York Times
“If there’s something to be done, I want to be in on the ground floor,” said Elizabeth, 67, a woman participating in studies of frontotemporal degeneration at the University of California, San Francisco.
She asked to be identified by only her middle name to protect her privacy. She is healthy, but she has tested positive for a rare gene that makes the brain disease virtually inevitable; her father, her grandmother, two of her three brothers and other relatives have been affected.
Scientists think that abnormal protein deposits inside brain cells cause frontotemporal degeneration. The proteins vary, but they do not include amyloid, the substance found in Alzheimer’s patients.
In about 40 percent of patients, the deposits are an abnormal form of a protein called tau, which normally gives structural support to brain cells. (Tau is also one of the proteins found in Alzheimer’s patients.)
Two other types of deposits are abnormal versions of proteins involved in other cell functions. In about half of all patients with frontotemporal dementia, the protein is one known as TDP-43, and in about 10 percent it is a substance called FUS.