Study: Vitamin E may help Alzheimer’s patients

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, nor is there an effective method of reversing symptoms such as memory loss, disorientation and difficulties in organizing thoughts. But a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests there may be some hope for improvement in these patients, in the form of vitamin E.

The study authors say that this is the first demonstration of vitamin E benefiting Alzheimer’s patients with mild to moderate disease. However, they caution that it doesn’t prove that the vitamin is always effective and therefore should not be universally recommended.

“This is a well done study by a solid research group,” said Maria Carrillo, vice president of Medical and Scientific Relations at the Alzheimer’s Association, in a statement. “The results are positive enough to warrant more research to replicate and confirm these findings, but should not change current medical practice. No one should take vitamin E for Alzheimer’s except under the supervision of a physician.”

Full story of vitamin E and Alzheimer’s patients at CNN Health

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

High Good, Low Bad Cholesterol Levels Are Healthy for Brain, Too

High levels of “good” cholesterol and low levels of “bad” cholesterol are correlated with lower levels of the amyloid plaque deposition in the brain that is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, in a pattern that mirrors the relationship between good and bad cholesterol in cardiovascular disease, UC Davis researchers have found.

“Our study shows that both higher levels of HDL — good — and lower levels of LDL — bad — cholesterol in the bloodstream are associated with lower levels of amyloid plaque deposits in the brain,” said Bruce Reed, lead study author and associate director of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center.

The relationship between elevated cholesterol and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease has been known for some time, but the current study is the first to specifically link cholesterol to amyloid deposits in living human study participants, Reed said.

“Unhealthy patterns of cholesterol could be directly causing the higher levels of amyloid known to contribute to Alzheimer’s, in the same way that such patterns promote heart disease,” he said.

Full story of cholesterol levels and the brain at Science Daily

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy Could Elevate Risk of Future Stroke

High blood pressure during pregnancy could dramatically raise a woman’s lifetime risk of stroke, according to a study presented today at the Canadian Stroke Congress.

“We’ve found that women who had high blood pressure during pregnancy could be at higher risk of stroke, particularly if they had pre-eclampsia, which is a more severe form of high blood pressure,” says Dr. Aravind Ganesh, a neurology resident at the University of Calgary. “The elevated risk of stroke could be as high as 40 per cent.”

Dr. Ganesh, along with Neha Sarna (medical student), Dr. Rahul Mehta (internal medicine resident) and senior author Dr. Eric Smith (stroke neurologist), conducted a systematic review — basically, a study of studies.

Nine studies specifically looked at hypertension (high blood pressure) during pregnancy and its relationship to future risk of stroke.

The studies followed women for anywhere from one to 32 years after a pregnancy, and found consistent evidence that those with a history of hypertension in pregnancy are more likely to experience stroke in later life.

Full story of high blood pressure during pregnancy at Science Daily

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Scientists Identify Protein Linking Exercise to Brain Health

A protein that is increased by endurance exercise has been isolated and given to non-exercising mice, in which it turned on genes that promote brain health and encourage the growth of new nerves involved in learning and memory, report scientists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School.

The findings, reported in the journal Cell Metabolism, help explain the well-known capacity of endurance exercise to improve cognitive function, particularly in older people. If the protein can be made in a stable form and developed into a drug, it might lead to improved therapies for cognitive decline in older people and slow the toll of neurodegenerative diseases such Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, according to the investigators.

“What is exciting is that a natural substance can be given in the bloodstream that can mimic some of the effects of endurance exercise on the brain,” said Bruce Spiegelman, PhD, of Dana-Farber and HMS. He is co-senior author of the publication with Michael E. Greenberg, PhD, chair of neurobiology at HMS.

The Spiegelman group previously reported that the protein, called FNDC5, is produced by muscular exertion and is released into the bloodstream as a variant called irisin. In the new research, endurance exercise — mice voluntarily running on a wheel for 30 days — increased the activity of a metabolic regulatory molecule, PGC-1α, in muscles, which spurred a rise in FNDC5 protein. The increase of FNDC5 in turn boosted the expression of a brain-health protein, BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic protein) in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in learning and memory.

Full story of protein and brain health at Science Daily

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Study questions brain benefit of omega-3s (VIDEO)

If there were a food or dietary supplement guaranteed to help preserve our thinking skills, memory and verbal fluency later in life, we’d all take it. Unfortunately, we don’t have such a miracle pill.

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish and nuts, have been touted as potential brain-boosters in aging. In some studies they were shown to be associated with a lower risk of dementia.

A new study in the journal Neurology is a knock against that theory, but more research needs to be done to confirm, as it does not prove or disprove a cause-and-effect relationship.

“Our study was observational and should not be viewed as a definitive answer on the relationship between omega-3s and cognitive function,” lead study author Eric Ammann of the University of Iowa said in an e-mail. “In making health-related decisions about diet and supplements, we would advise people to consider the total body of evidence and to consult with their health care providers.”

Participants

The study looked at 2,157 women aged 65 to 80 who had normal cognition and were already enrolled in a clinical trial for hormone therapy. They were part of a sub-study of the large Women’s Health Initiative study.

Researchers followed the participants for a median of 5.9 years.

Full story of omega-3s and brain research at CNN Health

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education