dementia

SYMPTOMS OF DEMENTIA: STUDY FINDS INABILITY TO SMELL PEPPERMINT LINKED TO DISEASE

Updated | Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, with an annual research budget of around $480 million, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. But the “holy grail” of contemporary dementia research is determining the risk factors that make people more likely to develop the disease, neurologist Ronald Petersen, who directs the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and Study of Aging at the Mayo Clinic, tells Newsweek.

Risk factor research is just as important as treatment development, Petersen says, since the two work together: first detection and then prevention. Once viable pre-dementia medications are found, doctors can use them in the intervention stage, similar to how cholesterol drugs lower heart disease risk.

Part of diagnosing patients early comes down to spotting warning signs and testing, which can be costly. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there is no one single test used to detect the disease (the most common form of dementia). Meanwhile, MRI scans are not feasible for every patient as they frequently cost thousands of dollars.

A team of researchers from the University of Chicago say their new research may help solve this problem by providing a simple and affordable test that detects dementia risk. In a large sample of nearly 3,000 adults ages 57 to 85 years old, researchers looked at whether a decline in our sense of smell could determine dementia diagnosis. Previous research has shown that tangles—twisted fibers of a protein that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s—can be found in the olfactory system and that dementia is linked to a decrease in this sense.

Related: Alzheimer’s test: Artificial intelligence spots symptoms years before doctors  

In the study, people sniffed five different odors: peppermint, fish, orange, rose and leather. These were taken from a larger test used to evaluate sense of smell. In a five-year follow up, people who couldn’t physically detect even one of the scents all had dementia. Almost 80 percent of those who only detected one or two scents had also been diagnosed with the disease.

Study author Dr. Jayant Pinto, tells Newsweek the findings are important because they show that the central nervous system warns us about potential health dangers. Furthermore, no one pays nearly enough attention to the power of our noses. “The sense of smell is a little bit of an ignored sense,” Pinto says.

So, does this mean that a potential dementia test comes down to whether you can smell a piece of salmon?

Dr. Mony de Leon, director of the Center for Brain Health at NYU Langone Health, expressed his ambivalence about the study’s implications. “In general terms, it seems pretty interesting…. What’s really most important in this study is the sample size. This must make it the largest study of its kind.”

But after analyzing the data, he suggests researchers did a better job of predicting who wouldn’t get dementia.

“It’s good, but it’s not yet ready for prime time,” de Leon says of the study.

Petersen agrees the research is well-done, but says that, on its own, it won’t be used in the doctor’s office. However, coupled with other tests analyzing factors such as gait and vision, which previously have been researched for their association with dementia, the new finding could be invaluable.

“Simple, cheap screening measures might separate people into high, medium and low risk,” he says. “These combinations are giving you real, predictive values that are going to be useful.”

This story has been updated to include quotes from Dr. Mony de Leon.

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Artificially Sweetened Drinks Found To Triple Your Risk of Stroke & Dementia

http://www.renegadetribune.com/artificially-sweetened-drinks-found-triple-risk-stroke-dementia/
By Arjun Walia

Artificial sweeteners have been a controversial topic for a long time, and despite a harsh industry response, multiple studies have implicated them in a host of health issues, including diabetes and cancer. Now, a new study has emerged out of Boston University showing that drinking diet soda regularly nearly triples your risk of developing stroke or dementia.

The study, titled “Sugar and Artificially Sweetened Beverages and the Risks of Incident Stroke and Dementia, A Prospective Cohort Study,” was published in the journal Stroke earlier this year.

Researchers gathered data from approximately 3,000 adults, and separated them into two categories. In people older than 45 years old, they looked at stroke risk, and for people older than 60 they concentrated on dementia. After the study, their results showed that drinking diet soda nearly triples your risk of developing stroke or dementia. The study lasted for a decade, at the researchers “observed 97 cases of incident stroke (82) and 81 cases of incident dementia (63 consistent with Alzheimer’s disease).

This is truly eye-opening, but shouldn’t really come as a surprise, although it is a one of a kind study examining whether artificially sweetened beverage consumption is associated with risks of stroke or dementia.

It’s interesting, because the study also found that sugar-sweetened beverages were not associated with stroke or dementia like artificially sweetened beverages are.

Sudha Seshadri, MD, senior study author, neurology professor and faculty member at Boston University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center told Science Daily:

These studies are not the be-all and end-all, but it’s strong data and a very strong suggestion. It looks like there is not very much of an upside to having sugary drinks, and substituting the sugar with artificial sweeteners doesn’t seem to help. Maybe good old-fashioned water is something we need to get used to.”

Dr. Josh Axe sums up the problem quite well in a statement on his website:

Whether it’s “real” sugar or we’re talking about high fructose corn syrup dangers related to soda, the science is clear. The sugar industryscandal of the 1950s and ’60s set a dietary disaster into motion. Faulty sugar industry-funded studies shifted public perception, tricking people into thinking fat, not sugar, was the nutritional villain.”

Keep in mind that there is a lot of controversy surrounding the difference between, let’s say, sugar from fruit and sugar in the form of artificial sweeteners of high fructose corn syrup.

Another author of this study, Mathew Pase, also published research in March of 2017 in Alzheimer’s & Dementia. For this study, researchers used data and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and cognitive testing results, from about 4,000 people. The focus here was on people who consumed more than two sugary drinks per day of any type, and more than three per week of soda.

Among the “high intake” group, researchers discovered several signs of accelerated brain aging that all correlated with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. They also found that at least one diet soda per day was associated with smaller brain volume.

Other Factors To Consider: The Example of Aspartame

Artificial sweeteners have been linked to a cascade of negative health effects by many researchers, but it still remains a controversy, especially because the industry itself thrives on making people feel stupid for even questioning these things.

But there are other factors to consider beyond the science, and that’s industry influence and scientific fraud, something that is, unfortunately, abundant in today’s world.

For example, when it comes to artificial sweeteners, did you know that aspartame failed to win FDA approval for 20 years? It was actually discovered by accident by chemist James M. Schlatter in 1965.

For 20 years, the FDA gave aspartame products the thumbs down mainly for the following safety issues and reasons:

  • Flawed data
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Fluid loss in your body

But pharmaceutical giant G.D. Searle – the makers of the NutraSweet and Equal brands – did not back down and knew that all it took was flexing political muscle. Read about how Donald Rumsfeld, the same powerful political figure in the Bush administration, proved instrumental in the FDA approval of aspartame in 1981 and the political appointments leading to it.

Here is a good summary of how aspartame became legalized in an article we published a few years ago. Dr. Joseph Mercola goes into more detail about it in his free E-BookHere is a publication from Harvard that also touches upon it, from what seems to be a neutral, but slight “pro-aspartame” side so you can get both sides of the debate.

We’ve (Collective-Evolution) have published numerous articles on aspartame; feel free to sift through them if interested.

The following is a very informative video about aspartame, and what many health practitioners believe to be the real truth behind this toxic sweetener, made by Dr. Joseph Mercola.


This article originally appeared on Collective Evolution.

Dementia patient denied her last wish, says spouse

MEDFORD, Ore. — Bill Harris is blunt: For more than a year, he has been trying to help his wife die.

The 75-year-old retired tech worker says it’s his duty to Nora Harris, his spouse of nearly four decades, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2009.

“Let me be honest: Yes. It’s what she wanted,” he said. “I want her to pass. I want her to end her suffering.”

Nora Harris, 64, a former librarian, signed an advance directive after her diagnosis to prevent her life from being prolonged when her disease got worse. Now, her husband said, she’s being kept alive with assisted eating and drinking against her stated wishes.

The onetime Virginia Woolf scholar and world traveler can no longer communicate, recognize family members or feed herself. She’s being spoon-fed at Fern Gardens, an assisted living center here, after a local judge ruled against Bill Harris last summer, concluding that state law mandates that she continue to receive help.

“She did not want to be in a position where somebody had to totally take care of her,” Bill Harris said. “When nature, through the disease, basically said, ‘I can’t feed myself,’ Nora’s position was, that’s it. Let nature take its course.”

In recent weeks, Nora Harris has been gaining weight, climbing from less than 100 pounds to 102 or 103 — just enough to keep her stable. Bill Harris learned that, in addition to three state-required daily meals, staffers have been feeding Nora optional snacks, too.

Now he’s considering going back to court to try to stop the snacks in an effort to let Nora Harris lose enough weight to end her life. Twice before, in 2015 and 2016, she fell to 90 pounds and was enrolled in hospice, with six months or less to live, only to rebound, he said, when staffers coaxed her to eat.

“You’re denying Nora the right to die on her terms,” Bill Harris said. “It’s not a right-to-life issue, it’s a right-to-die issue.”

‘No exit out of this situation’

The southern Oregon case underscores the complexity surrounding the use of advance directives for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Advance directives are legal documents that spell out a person’s end-of-life wishes if they are unable to make their own decisions.

These directives generally allow named agents the power to withdraw artificial hydration and nutrition in the form of feeding tubes, for instance. But when that same nourishment is offered by hand, several states, including Oregon, draw a line, said Thaddeus Mason Pope, director of the Health Law Institute at Hamline University in St. Paul, and an expert on end-of-life law.

Across the U.S., the more than 5 million people living with dementia are typically encouraged to put their end-of-life wishes into writing early and to pick a trusted person to carry them out, said Beth Kallmyer, vice president of constituent services for the Alzheimer’s Association.

That’s no guarantee, however, that those requests can — or will — be honored. In Nora Harris’ court case, her advance directive and testimony from her husband, her daughter and two close friends all indicated that she wouldn’t want anything to prolong her life.

“That court decision basically condemned Nora to the full extent of the Alzheimer’s disease,” Bill Harris said. “They gave her no exit out of this situation.”

But Eric Foster, the court-appointed lawyer who represented Nora Harris, argued that her directive doesn’t specifically mention food and drink presented by hand. Because she now opens her mouth and swallows when food is offered, she has, in essence, changed her mind, he said in a court document.

Bill Harris said that opening her mouth is a reflex, an automatic response to six decades of habit.

Kallmyer, with the Alzheimer’s Association, said it’s hard to tell whether someone with dementia is acting out of reflex or desire. The association recommends against tube-feeding for patients with dementia, while also advising what they call “careful hand-feeding.”

“If they’re eating and they’re opening their mouth, it’s difficult to say they didn’t want it,” she said.

Foster’s stance was backed by a judge who sympathized with Bill Harris’ plight, but sided with Fred Steele, Oregon’s ombudsman on long-term care. Steele said Nora Harris’ advance directive wasn’t specific enough to advise Fern Gardens staff to withhold food and water.

“Our concern was just focused on the administrative rule,” he said. “If the rule exists to prevent a facility from committing elder abuse, our focus was on what the rule required. The rule requires the resident be cued with food and they have the choice of eating or not eating.”

Lynn Rawlins, the center’s administrator, said her hands are tied.

“We have to feed them until they stop opening their mouths,” she said before a tour of the center last month. “Unless feeding them causes more harm from aspirational pneumonia or a choking factor. We still have to feed them, even if they choke.”

Loss of memories — and capacity to choose

Nora Harris is a small woman with graying brown hair and dark, confused eyes. On a recent 88-degree summer afternoon, she wore a maroon fleece sweater, gray sweatpants and mismatched socks.

She spoke in urgent whispers, syllables spilling out, unlinked from words.

Bill Harris put an arm around her shoulders reassuringly.

“Absolutely,” he said. “Of course.”

But he added later: “It’s difficult visiting her, especially when you know what Nora was like before.”

That’s the thorny issue at the heart of advance directives for people who lose the capacity to make their own decisions, said Pope.

If Nora Harris were aware enough to refuse food, instead of passively accepting it, there would be no question.

“Do we listen to the previous Nora or to the current Nora?” Pope said. “That is, unfortunately, not legally or ethically answered well.”

A bill introduced in the Oregon Legislature last year would have allowed an appointed committee to amend the state’s advance directive form. Critics, including Oregon Right to Life, an advocacy group, opposed the effort, arguing that it paved the way for mistreatment of vulnerable people, including dementia patients like Nora Harris.

“OR legislators move to allow starving, dehydrating the mentally ill,” one headline read. The bill passed the state Senate, but failed to advance.

Death through dehydration

Nora Harris’ situation also raises issues surrounding a controversial method of hastening death for seriously ill people known as “voluntarily stopping eating and drinking,” or VSED. It causes death through dehydration, usually in seven to 14 days.

VSED is being used by a small but growing number of determined patients with the help of their families, Pope said.

In Washington state, board members at End of Life Washington, a nonprofit that supports medical aid-in-dying, created an advance directive focused on people with dementia. Soon the group plans to release a new form for people who want to leave instructions for stopping eating and drinking at the end of life.

Medical experts say VSED can be a relatively painless, peaceful death. In the absence of nutrition and hydration, the body produces opiate-like substances that blunt hunger and thirst. With additional painkillers, comfort can be ensured, they add.

An analysis of VSED research concluded that “terminally ill patients dying of dehydration or starvation do not suffer if adequate palliative care is provided.” A 2003 survey of nurses in Oregon who helped more than 100 patients with VSED deaths said they were “good” deaths, with a median score of 8 on a 9-point scale.

Unlike aid-in-dying laws or rulings now in place in six states, VSED doesn’t require a government mandate or doctor’s authorization.

But the question of whether people with dementia can authorize a VSED death in advance, to be enacted later, when they’ve lost the capacity to choose, remains legally uncertain, Pope said.

“We don’t have statutes, we don’t have regulations, we don’t have a court case,” Pope said. “We have this thing where you’re allowed to refuse medical care. But this is basic care. Are you allowed to refuse basic care?”

For now, the answer in the case of Nora Harris is no.

That’s frustrating for Bill Harris, who says the emotional — and financial — toll of her illness has been enormous.

“The person you know, the person you married, who you love, is basically going away, fading away before your eyes,” he said.

He had planned to retire from his job at Wells Fargo bank at age 67 but worked an extra eight years to pay for the costs of Nora’s care, which total more than $80,000 out-of-pocket each year. Because she fell ill at age 56, she didn’t qualify for Medicare or other government help.

Worse, though, is seeing his once “extremely bright” wife wandering the halls of the assisted living center, “like a zombie,” he said.

“Nora was quite enamored of Virginia Woolf,” Bill Harris said, referencing the British author who drowned herself after years of mental illness.

“If she had known this would happen, she would have put rocks in her pockets and jumped in the river. This is absolutely where she never wanted to be.”

jaleccia@kff.org @JoNel_Aleccia 

One-third of dementia cases could be prevented, report says

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/one-third-of-dementia-cases-could-be-prevented-alzheimers-report/

 

One-third of cases of dementia worldwide could potentially be prevented through better management of lifestyle factors such as smoking, hypertension, depression, and hearing loss over the course of a lifetime, according to a new report.

Across the globe, about 47 million people were living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in 2015. That number is projected to triple by the year 2050 as the population ages. Health care costs associated with dementia are enormous, with an estimated $818 billion price tag in 2015.

The new study, published in The Lancet and conducted by the first Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention and Care, brought together 24 international experts to review existing dementia research and provide recommendations for treating and preventing the devastating condition.

“Dementia is the greatest global challenge for health and social care in the 21st century,” lead study author Professor Gill Livingston, of University College London, told CBS News. “The purpose of the commission was therefore to address it by consolidating the huge strides and emerging knowledge as to what we should do to prevent dementia and intervene and care for people with dementia.”

There is currently no drug treatment to prevent or cure dementia. But the report highlights the impact of non-drug interventions and identifies nine modifiable risk factors through various stages of life — beginning in childhood — that affect the likelihood of developing dementia.

To reduce the risk, factors that make a difference include getting an education (staying in school until over the age of 15); reducing high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes; avoiding or treating hearing loss in mid-life; not smoking; getting physical exercise; and reducing depressionand social isolation later in life. About 35 percent of dementia cases are attributable to these factors, the analysis found. Removing them could then theoretically prevent 1 in 3 cases.

In contrast, finding a way to target the major genetic risk factor, a gene called the apolipoprotein E (ApoE) ε4 allele, would prevent less than 1 in 10 cases – or about 7 percent.

“There’s been a great deal of focus on developing medicines to prevent dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease,” commission member Lon Schneider, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and the behavioral sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, said in a statement. “But we can’t lose sight of the real major advances we’ve already made in treating dementia, including preventive approaches.” Schneider presented the findings at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2017.

Of the nine risk factors, the researchers identified the three most common ones that could be targeted for dementia prevention.

The first is increasing education in early life, which the report estimated could reduce the total number of dementia cases by 8 percent if all people worldwide continued their education until over the age of 15.

The researchers note that not completing secondary education could raise dementia risk by reducing what’s referred to as “cognitive reserve.” It’s believed that education and other mentally stimulating tasks help the brain strengthen its networks so it can continue to function at a higher level even if it starts to decline later in life.

For the first time, the researchers also identified hearing loss as a major modifiable risk factor for dementia. They estimated that reducing hearing loss in mid-life could also reduce the number of dementia cases by 9 percent if all people were treated.

Livingston notes that research surrounding hearing loss and dementia is still in early stages and the link likely has something to do with the social isolation that can come with losing the ability to hear.

“They may work in similar ways as they reduce the chance of interactions and conversations, which are like exercise for the brain and enrich it and predispose to depression,” she said.

It’s not clear from medical research yet whether using hearing aids can counteract this risk.

Additionally, the researchers found the number of dementia cases worldwide could be reduced by 5 percent if all people stopped smoking. It’s particularly important to stop smoking later in life, they say, to reduce neurotoxins and improve heart health, which in turn improves brain health.

Other interventions likely to reduce dementia rates include increased physical activity and treating high blood pressure and diabetes.

The study authors say the report can offer guidance on ways to reduce the risk of dementia throughout life and improve the care for those living with the disease.

“This includes providing safe and effective social and health care interventions in order to integrate people with dementia within their communities,” Schneider said. “Hopefully this will also ensure that people with dementia, their families and caregivers, encounter a society that accepts and supports them.”

It’s important to note that lifestyle interventions will not delay or prevent all dementia cases. But the researchers say they are hopeful that the report will help shift more focus to concrete steps that can be taken to help avoid the disease.

“We hope that this report will feed into individual nations’ dementia policies and public health strategies, be used by individual clinicians to inform and improve their practice, and through media publicity inform the general public of what they can do to help avoid dementia, which is the most feared illness in old age.”

These few things may help stave off dementia, scientists say

Scientists think there may be a few things you can do to keep dementia at bay: train your brain, keep your blood pressure under control and stay active.

According to a report published Thursday by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), there is promising evidence that cognitive training, managing your blood pressure if you have hypertension and increasing your physical activity may help prevent age-related cognitive decline and dementia.

The report’s findings line up with the Alzheimer’s Association’s findings from two years ago, said Keith N. Fargo, the association’s director of Scientific Programs and Outreach. In 2015, the organization published its own review and identified two things that could help minimize the risk of cognitive decline.

“They were increasing physical activity and improving cardiovascular health,” he said.

“The ideas were there before the report,” said Dan G. Blazer, a member of the NASEM committee that conducted the study and the J.P. Gibbons Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus at Duke University Medical Center. “What is good for the heart is good for the brain. Therefore, exercise and controlling high blood pressure are good for the brain.”

And cognitive training is getting a lot of attention now, said Blazer. Cognitive training refers to programs or exercises aimed at improving reasoning, problem-solving, memory and processing speed. Sometimes they can be computer-based.

In one randomized control trial of 2,832 participants that the committee reviewed called the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) trial, those who had received cognitive training in reasoning and speed-of-processing showed less decline in those areas than those who didn’t — after ten years.

“(Cognitive training) is an area worthy of looking forward,” said Blazer.

The evidence is encouraging, but not enough to embark on a public health campaign, said Alan I. Leshner, the chair of the NASEM committee and CEO Emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In the report, the findings were described as “encouraging, but inconclusive” evidence.

Further research needs to be done, the report added.

Even so, Fargo of the Alzheimer’s Association said the public should understand one thing.

“There are things that you can do to reduce your risk,” he said.

“You can take your own cognitive health and brain health in your hands,” he said. “You can affect it in a positive way.”

Follow Sarah Toy on Twitter: @sarahtoy17

Diet sodas may be tied to stroke, dementia risk

http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/20/health/diet-sodas-stroke-dementia-study/

(CNN) Gulping down an artificially sweetened beverage not only may be associated with health risks for your body, but also possibly your brain, a new study suggests.

Artificially sweetened drinks, such as diet sodas, were tied to a higher risk of stroke and dementia in the study, which published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke on Thursday.
The study sheds light only on an association, as the researchers were unable to determine an actual cause-and-effect relationship between sipping artificially sweetened drinks and an increased risk for stroke and dementia. Therefore, some experts caution that the findings should be interpreted carefully.
No connection was found between those health risks and other sugary beverages, such as sugar-sweetened sodas, fruit juice and fruit drinks.
Are diet sodas dangerous to your health?

Are diet sodas dangerous to your health? 04:19
“We have little data on the health effects of diet drinks and this is problematic because diet drinks are popular amongst the general population,” said Matthew Pase, a senior research fellow in the department of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine and lead author of the new study.
“More research is needed to study the health effects of diet drinks so that consumers can make informed choices concerning their health,” he said.
The new study involved data on 2,888 adults older than 45 and 1,484 adults older than 60 from the town of Framingham, Massachusetts. The data came from the Framingham Heart Study, a project of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and Boston University.
In the older-than-45 group, the researchers measured for stroke and in the older-than-60 group, they measured for dementia.
“The sample sizes are different because we studied people of different ages,” Pase said. “Dementia is rare in people under the age of 60 and so we focused only on those aged over 60 years for dementia. Similarly, stroke is rare in people aged under 45 and so we focused on people older than age 45 for stroke.”
How diet soda confuses your body

How diet soda confuses your body 01:52
The researchers analyzed how many sugary beverages and artificially sweetened soft drinks each person in the two different age groups drank, at different time points, between 1991 and 2001. Then, they compared that with how many people suffered stroke or dementia over the next 10 years.
Compared to never drinking artificially sweetened soft drinks, those who drank one a day were almost three times as likely to have an ischemic stroke, caused by blocked blood vessels, the researchers found.
They also found that those who drank one a day were nearly three times as likely to be diagnosed with dementia.
Those who drank one to six artificially sweetened beverages a week were 2.6 times as likely to experience an ischemic stroke but were no more likely to develop dementia, Pase said.
“So, it was not surprising to see that diet soda intake was associated with stroke and dementia. I was surprised that sugary beverage intake was not associated with either the risks of stroke or dementia because sugary beverages are known to be unhealthy,” Pase said.
Unhealthy sugary drinks

In response, Lauren Kane, a spokeswoman for the American Beverage Association, issued a statement from the group that said low-calorie sweeteners found in beverages have been proven safe by worldwide government safety authorities.
“The FDA, World Health Organization, European Food Safety Authority and others have extensively reviewed low-calorie sweeteners and have all reached the same conclusion — they are safe for consumption,” the statement said.
“While we respect the mission of these organizations to help prevent conditions like stroke and dementia, the authors of this study acknowledge that their conclusions do not — and cannot — prove cause and effect. And according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), many risk factors can increase an individual’s likelihood of developing stroke and dementia including age, hypertension, diabetes and genetics. NIH does not mention zero calorie sweeteners as a risk factor,” the statement said. “America’s beverage companies support and encourage balanced lifestyles by providing people with a range of beverage choices — with and without calories and sugar — so they can choose the beverage that is right for them.”
Separate previous studies have shown an association between the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and adverse health effects, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and possibly even heart failure.
“This article provides further evidence though on artificially sweetened beverages and their possible effects on vascular health, including stroke and dementia,” said Dr. Ralph Sacco, professor and chair of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, about the new study.
Sacco was a co-author of an editorial published alongside the study in the journal Stroke on Thursday.
“We believe the pathways of which artificially sweetened beverages would affect the brain are probably through vascular mechanisms,” Sacco said.
“When the authors controlled for hypertension and diabetes and obesity the effects diminish, which implies that some of the effects of artificially sweetened beverages could still be going through a vascular pathway,” he said about the new study. “Many strokes are caused by hardening of arteries; and the risk of dementia is also increased by the hardening of arteries in large and small vessels. So, I believe the mechanisms may be through vascular disease, though we can’t prove it.”
Heather Snyder, senior director of medical and scientific operations at the Alzheimer’s Association, called the new study “a piece of a larger puzzle” when it comes to better understanding how your diet and behaviors impact your brain.
“It’s actually really more of your overall diet and overall lifestyle that is linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk, and we do know that heart disease and diabetes are linked to an increased risk of dementia,” said Snyder, who was not involved in the new study.
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“We know that sugary and artificially sweetened beverages are not great for us. This study adds strength to that, and also says they may not be great for your brain, specifically,” she said. “There are alternatives — things we can all do everyday to keep our brains and our bodies as healthy as we can as we age.” Alternatives such as regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates heart rate and increases blood flow and doing puzzles and games to activate and challenge the mind. These are recommendations from the Alzheimer’s Associations list of 10 lifestyle habits to reduce risk of cognitive decline.

Man with dementia fatally shot by police had a crucifix, not a gun, police say

A 73-year-old man in the early stages of dementia was killed by a Bakersfield police officer after a neighbor called 911 and erroneously reported the man was carrying a revolver, authorities said Tuesday.

The officer fired seven rounds toward Francisco Serna, who died just feet from his home.

But when police searched Serna for a gun, they found only a dark, faux wood crucifix.

“My dad did not own a gun. He was a 73-year-old retired grandpa, just living life,” Serna’s son, Rogelio Serna, said. “He should have been surrounded by family at old age, not surrounded by bullets.”

The shooting early Monday has sparked anger and grief in the San Joaquin Valley and drawn questions about how police respond to the elderly and people with disabilities. It prompted Bakersfield’s newly named police chief, Lyle Martin, to address the criticism and reveal details about the incident.

“I cannot tell you enough that this community is affected by Mr. Serna losing his life,” Martin said. “This is a tragic incident.”

About 12:30 a.m., a woman arrived at her home in the 7900 block of Silver Birch Avenue, the same block as Serna’s home, and began removing items from a vehicle, Martin said. When Serna approached her, he was acting bizarrely and had one hand in his pocket, according to Martin. Police said she saw a black- or brown-handled object that she believed was a firearm.

The woman ran inside her home and told her husband to call police. The husband told a 911 dispatcher that a man outside had a revolver and had brandished the weapon.

Two police officers responded just after 12:40 a.m. As officers and the couple stood outside, the woman spotted Serna exiting his home across the street.

Martin said she pointed toward Serna, saying, “That’s him.”

The couple rushed inside their home and closed their doors. The officers took cover.

Serna kept both hands in his jacket and continued walking toward police, who ordered him to stop and show his hands. Serna ignored the officers’ commands, police said.

When Serna was about 20 feet away, after ignoring commands to stop, Officer Reagan Selman fired seven rounds at Serna, Martin said.

Serna was struck and fell in the driveway. He was pronounced dead, just across the street from his home.

Officials said that about 30 seconds had elapsed between the woman identifying Serna and the officer opening fire. By then, five more officers had responded and saw the shooting. None of the other officers fired any rounds, Martin said.

It was Selman’s first police shooting since joining the force in July 2015. He and the six other officers were placed on routine administrative leave.

The incident comes at a pivotal time for the Bakersfield Police Department, which was jolted by scandal when two detectives pleaded guilty this year to federal drug and corruption charges.

Martin, a 28-year department veteran, was tapped in December to become the new police chief and was scheduled to be sworn in Wednesday. He said his willingness to discuss a disputed police shooting so soon after the incident was a show of transparency.

“This is what the public can expect from their police chief. I’ll give you the facts as I know them,” Martin said. “When things are bad, I’ll be out front. When things are good, my employees will be out front.”

The shooting drew wide condemnation from Serna’s family and activists. The family scheduled a vigil late Tuesday where Serna was killed.

Rogelio Serna said his father had shown signs of dementia since 2015 and occasionally experienced delusions. His symptoms seemed more pronounced in the last month, his son said.

The elder Serna had worked at a cotton gin in McFarland, Calif., for years and retired in the early to mid-2000s, his son said. Rogelio Serna said his parents moved to Bakersfield about eight years ago, leaving the town of Wasco so they could be closer to their children. He lived with his wife and one of his daughters.

Bakersfield police had visited Francisco Serna’s home at least two times before because his father would become confused and activate a medical alarm, Rogelio Serna said.

A police spokesman confirmed officers had visited Francisco Serna’s home, but he could not provide any details.

About eight hours before the shooting, police said, there was a separate incident involving Serna in which a neighbor also believed the man may have been armed, Martin said.

Serna had reportedly banged on doors and windows and attempted to drag the neighbor outside for a fight. The neighbor said Serna also kept a hand in his pocket and acted as though he had a gun, police said. The neighbor did not report it to police.

Police officials said officers were trained to respond to a variety of situations, including a man in the early stages of dementia.

The Ruderman Family Foundation, which advocates for those with disabilities, said the shooting indicated police were ill-prepared.

“These tragedies are unnecessary and preventable,” said Jay Ruderman, the foundation’s president.

Popular heartburn drugs linked to risk of dementia

A popular class of heartburn medications might raise a senior’s risk of dementia, a new study suggests.

Called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), this group of drugs includes Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid. They work by lowering the amount of acid produced by the stomach.

But German researchers found that people 75 or older who regularly take the medications had a 44 percent increased risk of dementia, compared with seniors not using the drugs. The study only found an association, however, and not a cause-and-effect link.

“To evaluate cause-and-effect relationships between long-term PPI use and possible effects on cognition in the elderly, randomized, prospective clinical trials are needed,” said corresponding author Britta Haenisch, from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn.

In the meantime, “Clinicians should follow guidelines for PPI prescription, to avoid overprescribing PPIs and inappropriate use,” Haenisch said.

The report was published Feb. 15 in the journal JAMA Neurology.

The results are surprising enough that at least one leading expert on aging, Dr. Malaz Boustani, plans to share the findings with older patients who are using PPIs.

Boustani said earlier studies have linked another type of antacid, H2 blockers, with an increased risk of dementia. Up to now, he’s recommended that patients use PPIs to treat acid reflux and steer clear of H2 blockers like Tagamet, Pepcid and Zantac.

“I’m going to disclose the finding to my patients and then let them decide whether they will take the risk or not,” said Boustani, a professor of medicine with the Indiana University Center for Aging Research and a spokesman for the American Federation for Aging Research. “On Monday I have clinic, and if I have patients taking a PPI or an H2 blocker I will tell them exactly what I’m telling you, and then they can decide.”

More than 15 million Americans used prescription PPIs in 2013, at a total cost of more than $10 billion, according to a report by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. Several popular PPIs — Prilosec, Prevacid and Zegerid — also are available over-the counter, further boosting their use.

Concern has been increasing that Americans might be overusing PPIs to treat minor cases of heartburn or acid reflux.

As many as 70 percent of PPI prescriptions in the United States have been inappropriately handed out by doctors, and 25 percent of long-term users could stop taking the medication without suffering increased heartburn or acid reflux, according to a study published in January in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Overuse of PPIs could have drastic effects on health, that study found. For example, the medications have been linked to a 20 percent to 50 percent higherrisk of chronic kidney disease.

And now the German researchers report there also is some evidence that PPI use might affect a person’s ability to reason.

PPIs appear to effect levels of amyloid beta and tau, which are proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease, the German authors said. PPI use can also lead to vitamin B12 deficiency, which has been associated with cognitive decline.

To test the possible association between PPIs and dementia, the German researchers collected data from a large German health insurance firm on almost 74,000 seniors aged 75 or older. The data ran from 2004 to 2011, and included diagnoses and drug prescriptions.

About 2,950 patients regularly used PPIs, which for this study was defined as at least one PPI prescription in each quarter of an 18-month interval.

Regular users of PPIs had a 44 percent increased risk of dementia compared with those not receiving PPI medications.

However, the study doesn’t make clear whether PPIs are also available over the counter in Germany, as they are in the United States, said Dr. Arun Swaminath, director of the inflammatory bowel disease program at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

If over-the-counter PPIs are available, then more people might have been taking them and the dementia risk described in this paper could be overestimated, Swaminath said.

“However, I think the point here is that for some patients, weaning off PPIs is reasonable and they should make this decision with their doctors,” he said.

People who want to ease off PPIs can take a number of steps to reduce excess acid or prevent acid reflux, Boustani said. They can eat smaller meals, lay off chocolate and caffeine, and stay upright for a few hours following each meal.

Boustani added that his group has received federal funding to design clinical trials in which people would be weaned off PPIs, to see how it affects their ability to remember and think.

Dr. Gisele Wolf-Klein, director of geriatric education at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, N.Y., added that even the researchers aren’t sure why PPIs would affect the aging brain.

“We don’t know what is causing the brain to deteriorate. Until we know this, there’s no reason for people who are taking PPIs to be too concerned about that and stop taking those agents if they are needed,” Wolf-Klein said.

Another expert agreed.

While the study is intriguing, it’s not enough for doctors to warn patients off PPI use, said Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer’s Association.

“It does not tell us anything that should change medical practice right now,” Fargo said. “I don’t think there’s going to be an uprising among doctors telling patients not to take their PPIs. This doesn’t rise anywhere near the level of evidence you would need for that.”

One of the paper’s main flaws is that researchers could not control for diet and body weight as risk factors, Fargo said.

“Both of those things, we know, are risk factors for developing cognitive decline and dementia in later life, and both of those are reasons why a person might need to take a proton pump inhibitor,” Fargo explained.

Education May Cut Dementia Risk, Study Finds

The risk of developing dementia is decreasing for people with at least a high school education, according to an important new study that suggests that changes in lifestyle and improvements in physical health can help prevent or delay cognitive decline.

The study, published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, provides the strongest evidence to date that a more educated population and better cardiovascular health are contributing to a decline in new dementia cases over time, or at least helping more people stave off dementia for longer.

The findings have implications for health policy and research funding, and they suggest that the long-term cost of dementia care may not be as devastatingly expensive as policy makers had predicted, because more people will be able to live independently longer.

There are wild cards that could dampen some of the optimism. The study participants were largely white and suburban, so results may not apply to all races and ethnicities. Still, a recent study showed a similar trend among African-Americans in Indianapolis, finding that new cases of dementia declined from 1992 to 2001. The 2001 participants had more education, and although they had more cardiovascular problems than the 1992 participants, those problems were receiving more medical treatment.

Photo

Cynthia Johnson, 54, is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Porcello. She has a college degree and belongs to a generation researchers would now predict to have less dementia.CreditKieran Kesner for The New York Times 

Another question mark is whether obesity and diabetes, which increase dementia risk, will cause a surge in dementia cases when the large number of overweight or diabetic 40- and 50-year-olds become old enough to develop dementia.

In any event, in the next few decades, the actual number of dementia patients will increase because baby boomers are aging and living longer.

“You don’t want to give the impression that the Alzheimer’s or dementia problem is disappearing — it’s not at all,” said Dallas Anderson, a program director on dementia at the National Institute on Aging, one of two agencies that financed the study. “The numbers are still going up because of the aging population.”

Still, he added, the new research shows that “what happens in a person’s life becomes important.”

“It’s not just, ‘Oh, it’s in your genes. You’re going to get it,’” he said. “You can take steps to postpone the disease.”

The decline reported in the new study was strongest in vascular dementia, which is most directly linked to cardiovascular problems. Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, also declined, but the trend narrowly missed what researchers consider statistically significant.

Still, Maria Carrillo, chief science officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, an advocacy group, said “this tells me there absolutely is hope for Alzheimer’s” if a push for healthier lifestyles accompanies efforts to find dementia treatments.

Dementia experts and advocacy groups have long predicted that the number of Americans with dementia, now about five million, would triple by 2050. But a burst of fresh research in Europe, Canada and the United States has pointed to decreases in recent decades in more educated populations with better-controlled cholesterolblood pressure, and heart and lung health.

“There’s more studies suggesting that the risk is going down and we might have to rethink some of the projections of how big a problem dementia will be 30 years from now,” said Dr. Kenneth Langa, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan. On Saturday, he will present at an international conference preliminary results from another large study, which found that the prevalence of dementia in a more nationally diverse population declined by about 21 percent from 2000 to 2010.

Results like this suggest, he said, “that even without a big breakthrough in medication or a vaccine that would stop the Alzheimer’s process, that we can do things that lower the risk of dementia long-term.”

The New England Journal research is considered especially strong because it looked at the emergence of new cases of dementia, or incidence, and is based on data from the Framingham Heart Study, a large collection of detailed health information that began in 1948 with participants from Framingham, Mass., and has continued to follow them and their children and grandchildren.

Researchers evaluated the cognitive status of 5,025 people age 60 and older in four time periods beginning in 1977, and found a steady decline of about 20 percent in new dementia cases each decade. They also found that on average, people were older when they were found to have dementia: 80 years old in the 1970s, compared with 85 in the group evaluated 40 years later.

Significantly, the decline in new dementia cases, or incidence, occurred only with people who had at least a high school diploma. High school graduates were also the only ones whose cardiovascular health, except for obesity and diabetes, improved steadily over the same 40 years.

“Whether education is beneficial in itself or whether education is a marker for other things like poverty and unhealthy lifestyle, we didn’t parse that out,” said Dr. Sudha Seshadri, a neurologist at Boston University Medical Center and a senior investigator with the Framingham Heart Study.

Dr. Seshadri said the study did not yield strong evidence that college-educated people had even lower dementia risk, but with small numbers of college graduates in the study’s early groups, it was hard to tell. The study led by Dr. Langa, which compared a nationally representative survey of about 10,000 Americans age 65 and over in 2000 to a similar group in 2010, found more college correlated with less dementia.

“We find the more education the better,” said Dr. Langa, whose study indicated that people in 2010 averaged almost a year more education than those in 2000, and that education explained about one-half the decline in dementia in that decade.

There are many theories about why education may help stave off dementia, including that it leads to better economic opportunity, which can propel healthier habits and better access to medical care. Another theory is that learning generates more neural connections, allowing brains to compensate longer when memory and cognitive functions falter.

“ That’s a major puzzle, what is the causal effect of education on dementia and cognitive function later in life,” said Michael D. Hurd, the director of the RAND Center for the Study of Aging.

Dr. Hurd, who led a study in 2013 estimating that the cost of dementia care would more than double by 2040, said it was too early to say if that estimate should now be lower. Some people will be living longer with dementia, needing, say, 10 years of nursing home care, instead of three, he said, adding that “Framingham is not the U.S. population.”

Indeed, another study published Wednesday found significant racial disparities, with African-Americans the most likely group to develop dementia, Asian-Americans the least likely, and whites and Latinos somewhere in between.

Not all of the Framingham results could be explained by education or cardiovascular health, Dr. Seshadri said, a reflection of the complexity of dementia.

Marie and Joe Porcello, study participants, are 86-year-old high school graduates with no significant cardiovascular problems or family history of dementia. But Mr. Porcello remains healthy, while his wife, a retired secretary, developed dementia about 10 years ago and is in an assisted-living facility.

“I took care of her as long as I can, and then she fell one day when she was getting out of the bathtub,” Mr. Porcello said. He said his wife usually recognized him, but “the other day when I went up there, she said, ‘Who are you?’ and I said ‘I’m your husband.’ Then right away she knew who I was and she puckered up like she wanted to give me a kiss.”

Mr. Porcello, a retired phone company foreman, did attend night school for postsecondary algebra classes, but “in my lifetime, you didn’t really have to go to college,” he said.

“Today, everybody has to go to college, or you end up pushing carts in supermarkets.”

Their daughter Cynthia Johnson, 54, who received a bachelor’s degree in computer science and worked as a software engineer, belongs to a generation that researchers would now predict to have less dementia.

But David Jones, a professor of the culture of medicine at Harvard, said history showed disease trends were rarely straightforward. Dementia, he said in an email, “won’t be as bad as it would have been had incidence not begun to fall, but it will still be a very difficult problem.”

Dementia now striking people in their 40s as mercury from vaccines causes slow, degenerative brain damage

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(NaturalNews) Dementia and other neurological brain diseases are striking people younger and younger, according to a new study conducted by researchers from Bournemouth University in England and published in the journal Surgical Neurology International. These diseases have reached levels that are “almost epidemic,” the researchers said, and they reached them so quickly that environmental factors must be largely to blame.

“The rate of increase in such a short time suggests a silent or even a ‘hidden’ epidemic, in which environmental factors must play a major part, not just ageing,” lead researcher Colin Pritchard said. “Modern living produces multi-interactional environmental pollution but the changes in human morbidity, including neurological disease is remarkable and points to environmental influences.”

Death rates have more than doubled

The researchers compared the rates of neurological brain diseases in 21 Western countries from 1989 to 2010. They found that as of 2010, the average rate of onset for dementia was 10 years earlier than it was in 1989. In addition, deaths from neurological disease had increased significantly in people aged 55 to 74 and had nearly doubled in people aged 75 and older.

These changes were seen in all 21 countries, but the United States fared the worst by far. In the United States, neurological deaths in men older than 74 tripled from 1989 to 2010, and they increased nearly fivefold in women of the same age. More elderly U.S. women are now dying from brain diseases than from cancer for the first time in recorded history.

The researchers’ analysis showed that the findings could not simply be explained by improved treatment of other diseases.

“Crucially it is not just because people are living longer to get diseases they previously would not have lived long enough to develop but older people are developing neurological disease more than ever before,” Pritchard said.

Instead, a large part of the cause must be environmental changes that have taken place over the past two decades.

“The environmental changes in the last 20 years have seen increases in the human environment of petro-chemicals – air transport- quadrupling of motor vehicles, insecticides and rises in background electro-magnetic-field, and so on.

“These results will not be welcome news as there are many with short-term vested interests that will want to ignore them,” he said.

Vaccine connection?

Could mercury exposure from vaccines play a role in the rising rates of early onset dementia? Until 2001, mercury-containing thimerosal was used as a preservative in many childhood vaccines. Even today, the substance is still used in adult vaccines as well as in flu shots given to children and adults.

In a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2010, researchers reviewed 100 prior experimental and clinical studies looking at the effects of mercury on cells, animals and humans. They found that long-term mercury exposure produced many of the same changes seen in Alzheimer’s disease, including confusion and impairments to memory and cognitive function.

“Mercury is clearly contributing to neurological problems, whose rate is increasing in parallel with rising levels of mercury,” researcher Richard Deth said. “It seems that the two are tied together.”

Aluminum, another common vaccine ingredient, has also been linked to dementia. For example, a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people with the highest aluminum content in their drinking water also had the highest risk of dementia. Clinical studies have also directly linked aluminum to brain damage.

Both aluminum and mercury are also widely found in the environment due to contamination from other sources. Coal-burning power plants are the world’s foremost source of mercury pollution and a major contributor to mercury contamination of fish. Dental fillings are also a major source of human mercury exposure.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/050994_Alzheimers_vaccines_mercury_exposure.html#ixzz3kS2cwquQ