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Link Found Between Obesity Gene and Alzheimer's

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There have been several groundbreaking studies recently that may have a direct impact on treating Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, all presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Honolulu.

Yesterday, Food Consumer reported on three studies that linked tea drinking, adequate levels of vitamin D in the blood stream, and sufficient physical activity to a decreased risk in dementia. 
In addition to these promising lifestyle preventives, a new Swedish study has discovered an association between an obesity related gene variant and an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

One thousand Swedes aged 75 and older were studied by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.  
A particular variant of the FTO gene was found to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 58% and other forms of dementia by 48%.  The FTO gene influences BMI, levels of leptin, which is a hormone that affects appetite and metabolism, and diabetes risk.  In other studies, all three of these factors have been associated with Alzheimer’s.

Although the researchers emphasize that more research needs to be forthcoming, they believe the study is unique because the link was discovered independent of the other risk factors traditionally associated with FTO, such as diabetes and obesity.

Alzheimer’s disease was discovered by Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who died of a strange “mental illness.”   Her symptoms included memory loss, erratic behavior and speech problems. 

According to the National Institute on Aging, he found many distinct and unusual clumps, now referred to as amyloid plaques.  These plaques, as well as tangles and the loss of nerve cell connections in the brain are the hallmarks of the wretched disease.

Rather than a disease, dementia is defined as a particular set of behavioral symptoms that accompany Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.  By far the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s may affect up to 5.1 million people, according to the NIA.   

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