Fitness in Middle Age Lowers Dementia Risk



A new study finds that being physically fit in middle age may protect against Alzheimer’s disease later in life.


 

 

FITNESS IN MIDDLE AGE LOWERS DEMENTIA RISK

The incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are predicted to rise significantly as our population continues to age.  At the present time, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and most other forms of dementia.

While the primary cause (or causes) of Alzheimer’s disease remains unclear at this time, it is clear that advancing age, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels all appear to be linked with this debilitating and irreversible form of dementia.  At the same time, it is also well known that regular exercise can reduce the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and elevated high cholesterol levels.  Now, a newly published research study, which appears in the Annals of Internal Medicine, strongly suggests that being physically fit during mid-life may also help to protect against Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia later in life.

In this study, 19,458 middle-aged adults were assessed for their level of physical fitness between 1971 and 2009.  After an average of 25 years of follow-up, 1,659 of these research volunteers went on to be diagnosed with dementia. When researchers correlated levels of physical fitness during mid-life with the incidence of dementia later in life, they found that higher levels of physical fitness in middle age appeared to be protective against Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia later in life.  In fact, the research volunteers with the highest levels of physical fitness during their middle age years were 36 percent less likely to develop dementia during the course of this study, when compared with volunteers who were at the lowest levels of physical fitness during mid-life.

In addition to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer, the findings of this newly published clinical study strongly suggest that regular exercise during middle age is also associated with a significant reduction in the risk of developing dementia later in life.  In view of the many health benefits associated with regular exercise, if you are not currently getting 3 to 4 hours of at least moderate exercise per week, then please see your physician and a personal trainer, and begin your own personal exercise program!


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New Graphic Antismoking Ads Debut in England

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Obesity Among Young Children May Be Declining

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Inexpensive Power Foods

 

 

Dr. Wascher’s latest video:

Dark as Night, Part 1


Dark as Night, Part 1

Dark as Night, Part 1


At this time, more than 8 percent of Americans are unemployed.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is now more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.




Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


 

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  Over the past 12 months, more than 2.5 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious readers.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 


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Speaking Two Languages Improves Brain Function Late in Life



A new study shows that speaking at least two languages improves brain function later in life.


 

 

 

SPEAKING TWO LANGUAGES IMPROVES BRAIN FUNCTION LATE IN LIFE

Although there are an estimated 6,000 distinct languages spoken on the planet, only about 1 in 4 countries officially identify themselves as bilingual or multilingual nations.  However, there are more people in the world who speak at least two languages than there are people who speak only one language.  Therefore, the majority of humankind can be thought of as generally being bilingual or multilingual.

Based upon previously published cognitive studies, being bilingual or multilingual appears to “strengthen” the areas of the brain that are involved in both language processing and other higher cognitive functions.  Indeed, based upon these prior studies, lifelong multilingual people appear to experience a later onset of cognitive decline in life, and a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, compared to monolingual people.  Now, a newly published research study, which appears in the Journal of Neuroscience, provides fascinating new insights into exactly how bilingualism and multilingualism may help to preserve cognitive function in the brain as we age.

In this study, 110 older monolingual and bilingual adults participated in several “task-switching” exercises that test cognitive function.  Using a sophisticated imaging system that measures blood flow within specific areas of the brain (functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI), these monolingual and bilingual study volunteers were put through their paces with various task-switching exercises while their brain function was monitored by fMRI.

Among the monolingual older adults, areas of the brain associated with the processing of information, and with decision-making, were highly activated during task-switching exercises, indicating that these areas of the brain were working very hard to complete the tasks assigned by the researchers.  The bilingual older adults also experienced increased activity in the left lateral frontal cortex and cingulate cortex, but significantly less so than the monolingual study volunteers.  At the same time, the bilingual volunteers consistently outperformed their monolingual fellow volunteers on the task-switching exercises, despite lower levels of activation of these two key areas of the brain.  Thus, just as has been predicted by previous cognitive testing studies, lifelong bilingualism does indeed appear to increase the efficiency of the areas of the brain that are involved in high-level cognitive processing, and also appear to decrease the rate of loss of these cognitive abilities with advancing age, when compared to monolingualism.  In this clinical study, the bilingual older adults were more successful in completing task-switching cognitive exercises than monolingual older adults; and at the same time, the brains of the bilingual adults accomplished this improved cognitive performance with less effort than their monolingual counterparts (based upon fMRI measurements of brain activity).

While there are many potential personal, professional, social and cultural benefits to speaking more than one language, this elegant clinical research study confirms earlier predictions that lifelong bilingualism and multilingualism may help to preserve the cognitive efficiency and function of the higher processing centers of the brain much later in life.  Given at least the perception that the United States lags behind many other countries in the world in the area of foreign language education, the findings of this new study offer yet another reason for schools in the US to ramp up their foreign language programs.  We live in an increasingly competitive, globalized and multilingual world, and preparing our children for a successful future in that world should include early and continuous exposure to foreign language training, in my view.

 

Links to Other Breaking Health News

Dying Nurse Volunteers Herself to Teach Nursing Students about the Dying

Flu Cases Surge in US, Especially Among the Unvaccinated

Regular Walks Cut Stroke Risk

Falling Asleep While Driving More Common than Previously Thought

Growing Immune Cells to Fight Cancer

Celebrity Health Fads Debunked

Thousands of Surgery Mistakes Are Still Happening Each Year

New Graphic Antismoking Ads Debut in England

Kids with Food Allergies May Become Targets of Bullies

Obesity Among Young Children May Be Declining

Tamoxifen for 10 Years (Instead of 5 Years) Significantly Improves Breast Cancer Survival Rate

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Satisfaction with Life May Actually Increase with Age

Brain Changes in the Elderly May Increase Susceptibility to Being Scammed

“Talking” Therapy May Help Depression When Antidepressant Medications Fail

New Egg-Free Flu Vaccine

Graphic Cigarette Labels in Australia

Predicting Childhood Obesity at Birth

Inexpensive Power Foods


 

Dr. Wascher’s latest video:

Dark as Night, Part 1


Dark as Night, Part 1

Dark as Night, Part 1


At this time, more than 8 percent of Americans are unemployed.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is now more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.




Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


 

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  Over the past 12 months, more than 2.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious readers.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 


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Vitamin D Reduces Risk of Cognitive Decline & Dementia

 

Welcome to Weekly Health Update


“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”


VITAMIN D REDUCES RISK OF COGNITIVE DECLINE & DEMENTIA

Regular readers of this column are already well aware of the preventive effects of Vitamin D with respect to falls in the elderly, certain cancers, and cardiovascular disease.  (My new book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” which is scheduled to be published in August, 2010, contains an exciting and comprehensive update on the role of Vitamin D in cancer prevention.)  Now, a newly published research study, which appears in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, has linked low Vitamin D levels in the blood with an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia in adults over the age of 65.

A total of 858 adults at or over the age of 65 participated in this prospective public health study, which was conducted over a period of 7 years.  All of these study volunteers underwent extensive evaluation of their cognitive function, using validated, standardized tests, when they entered into the study.  All patients also underwent testing of their blood for Vitamin D levels.  This extensive evaluation and testing was then repeated every 3 years during the course of this important clinical research study.

The results of this study indicated that patient volunteers with low Vitamin D levels in the blood (less than 25 nmol/liter), when compared with volunteers with normal blood levels of Vitamin D (75 nmol/liter, or higher), experienced significant declines in their intellectual function over the course of this study.  Indeed, the patient volunteers with decreased Vitamin D levels in their blood were as much as 60 percent more likely to experience progressive cognitive decline or dementia over the relatively brief duration of this study, when compared with the patients who had normal levels of Vitamin D in their blood! 

The results of this study are very similar to the findings of a similar study, which has just been published in the journal Neurology.  In this particular study, an inadequate level of Vitamin D in the blood of elderly men and women was associated with a significantly increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia from all causes, including Alzheimer’s disease and stroke.  Moreover, abnormalities of the brain, as detected by MRI scans, were also more commonly observed in patients who were deficient in Vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiency is very common in older men and women.  An estimated 80 percent of people over the age of 65 have inadequate levels of Vitamin D in their blood, while as many as 45 percent of older men and women also have severe Vitamin D deficiency.

 

The results of these two studies strongly suggest that adequate levels of Vitamin D in the blood may be associated with a significantly reduced risk of aging-associated cognitive decline and dementia in older men and women, in addition to improving muscle strength, decreasing the risk of certain cancers, and decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

 

Not everyone should take large doses of Vitamin D, however, as the unmonitored use of this potent hormone-like vitamin can cause dangerous elevations in the level of calcium in the blood, as well as calcifications in the soft tissues of the body, kidney failure, pancreatitis, and gastrointestinal ulcers.  (Prior to starting Vitamin D supplements, you should certainly discuss the risks and benefits of Vitamin D supplementation with your physician.)

 

To learn more about the critical role of Vitamin D and the risk of cancer, look for the publication of my new landmark book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” in the August of this year. 



Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author


For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-Tdv7XW0qg



I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 new and returning readers who visit our premier global health information website every month.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.



 

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Concord Grape Juice Improves Memory

January 24, 2010 by Robert Wascher  
Filed under dementia

Welcome to Weekly Health Update



 

“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”

 

CONCORD GRAPE JUICE IMPROVES MEMORY

 

Polyphenols are plant-based dietary compounds with known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  These biological properties of polyphenols reduce the ongoing damage to the DNA in our cells that results from the toxic byproducts of metabolism, including free radicals.  Polyphenols have, therefore, been the subject of intense research as potential prevention agents for a variety of human ailments, including cardiovascular disease, dementia, and cancer.  (The evidence-based role of dietary polyphenols in cancer prevention is discussed in great detail in my soon-to-be-published book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race.”)

Foods that are naturally rich in polyphenols include most blue and red berries, grapes (including red wine), pomegranates, walnuts, peanuts, olive oil, green tea, dark chocolate and cocoa, coffee, and beer (as well as other fruits and vegetables). 

Recent animal research has suggested that polyphenols derived from grape seeds can reduce the development of plaques in the brain (at least in mice) that are associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.  Now, a newly published prospective, randomized, double-blind clinical research study suggests that Concord grape juice, which is rich in polyphenols, may be able to improve early memory decline in older adults.

In this small study, which has been published in the British Journal of Nutrition, 12 elderly adults with declining memory were divided into two groups.  The “experimental group” received daily Concord grape juice supplements for a period of 12 weeks.  The second group, the “control group,” received placebo supplements that were identical in appearance to Concord grape juice, but which contained no juice.  Neither the 12 patient volunteers nor the research assistants were aware of which patients received grape juice and which patients received the placebo while the study was being conducted.

Standardized, validated tests of memory, and other aspects of cognitive function, were administered to all 12 patient volunteers participating in this study.  These cognitive function tests revealed statistically significant improvements in verbal learning skills among the patients who received 12 weeks of Concord grape juice (when compared to the placebo group).  Although not statistically significant, improvements were also noted in both verbal and spatial recall among the patient volunteers who received the grape juice supplements in this small clinical study with a brief duration of patient follow-up.

While larger studies, with a longer duration of follow-up, will be required to confirm the findings of this small pilot study, the prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind nature of this small study does give it considerably more predictive power than the much larger dietary survey-based epidemiological studies that are more commonly used in disease prevention research. 



In view of the extreme devastation and human misery brought about in Haiti by the recent earthquake, Weekly Health Update asks our tens of thousands of caring readers to give generously to established charities that are currently working in that country to assist the injured, the ill, and the homeless there.  There are many such legitimate charities, including the following two:

http://www.redcross.org/

http://www.imcworldwide.org/haiti



Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author



For a somewhat lighter perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-Tdv7XW0qg



 

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