A quick look at the numbers will tell you that it’s easy to be pessimistic about the future of Alzheimer’s disease. There is no cure and researchers are anticipating Alzheimer’s to reach epidemic proportions. With limited funding comes limited research opportunities, and every 67 seconds someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with the disease.
This month, we wanted to look at the positive news coming out of Alzheimer’s research, that give us a glimmer of hope for a future without dementia. Read on to learn more about the top Alzheimer’s news in August.
Prior research has shown a link between the mutation of a gene called apoE4, and the development of Alzheimer’s. This has lead some to ask if removing the protein entirely may remove the threat of the disease. Now, a man who does not physically produce the protein has come forward — while he does face a variety of medical problems, the lack of apoE4 had not appeared to hurt his brain. This discovery could lead to clinical trials which may result in new treatment methods.
A recent study shows that those with severe mid-life obesity may triple their risk for dementia as they age. No definitive conclusions can be drawn as the study was only observational, but it adds to the growing body of evidence that suggests that lifestyle choices play a huge role in Alzheimer’s and dementia development. Which may also mean that we are more in charge of our cognitive health than we realize.
This past month, researchers sought to improve the quality of life for Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers by practicing mindfulness. They found that both patients and caregivers who attended an eight-week mindfulness training program had lower depression scores, a higher quality of sleep and reported an overall improvement in quality of life. Mindfulness may help the millions affected by the devastating disease cope with daily challenges and help ease anxiety while improving their outlook on life.
A study completed this month showed that those with a severe vitamin D deficiency had a 125% increased risk of developing dementia. Researchers expected to find some kind of link between the two, but were surprised by the strong correlation. While more research is needed, the potentially huge role that this vitamin plays in the prevention of Alzheimer’s is a key development to the pathology of the disease.
While more studies link lifestyle choices to the development of Alzheimer’s, another recent study showed that the lifestyle choices that raise the risk of the disease may be taking effect through epigenetic changes. It is not yet clear if lifestyle changes cause the genetic mutation or if the genetic mutation causes lifestyle changes. But either way, the initial findings provide a closer look at the relationship between genetics and Alzheimer’s, possibly leading to new drug treatments that treat the epigenetic changes that may cause the disease.
What do you think about the latest Alzheimer’s findings? Share your thoughts about the most recent Alzheimer’s research in the comments below.
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