Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How eating too much could double risk of memory loss

Sounds like the old old story of lower class people being more careless about what they eat and also generally less healthy. So it is lower class that causes memory loss, not the overeating.

Good to see that the authors did adjust for education but that is only one component of class. There are "skidders" (educated bums) and climbers (poorly educated high achievers) who make education only a partial class indicator

IQ is quite a powerful predictor of some health-related behavior and that is very rarely controlled for

Overeating could more than double the risk of memory loss among elderly people, a study has found. Researchers discovered that those who consumed more than 2,100 calories a day were far more likely to have 'mild cognitive impairment' than those who ate less.

The findings suggest that keeping to a low-calorie diet in old age could keep the mind sharp – and may even prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

Scientists in the U.S. looked at the eating and drinking habits of 1,200 people aged 70 to 89 who did not have dementia, and gave them memory tests.

They found that 163 had developed memory problems – and the risk was more than twice as high for those who consumed the most calories.

The connection was clear even after the scientists had adjusted the data to account for other factors that could influence memory loss, such as educational levels or a history of strokes, diabetes or depression.

The researchers had divided the study participants into three groups: one included people consuming 600 to 1,500 calories a day, with another for those consuming 1,500 to 2,100, and a third for those consuming 2,100 to 6,000.

No significant difference was found between the two lower groups, which suggests that consuming fewer than 2,100 calories does not raise the risk of memory problems.

Study author Dr Yonas Geda, from the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, said the research linked high calorie intakes with mild cognitive impairment – the stage between the normal memory loss that comes with ageing, and the beginnings of Alzheimer's disease.

'We observed a dose-response pattern, which means: the higher the number of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk,' he said. 'Cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be a simpler way to prevent memory loss as we age.'

The findings are yet to be published, but will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's annual conference in April.

Dr Marie Janson, of Alzheimer's Research UK, said there is a 'desperate need' for more research into possible risk factors for dementia. 'It would be interesting to see how many of these people go on to develop dementia in the future, to see if there is link to Alzheimer's disease,' she said.

'We know that age is one of the greatest risk factors for dementia, but adopting a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, is beneficial in protecting against dementia along with a number of other chronic diseases.'

Researchers looking at the onset of memory loss in old age are becoming increasingly interested in the role played by diet and exercise.

A small-scale study two years ago found that people with the genes associated with obesity tended to have smaller brains, giving them an increased risk of dementia.

People who do regular physical exercise and brain-training puzzles have also been found to stave off the effects and retain a stronger memory.


Gorging on chocolate is not always bad for you: Teenager with liver disease life is saved by "junk" food

A teenager who was told she could die in six months if she failed to get a liver transplant has defied the odds after she was saved by gorging on chocolate. Elle Wilkinson was warned by doctors that she had between six and 12 months to live is she didn't find a donor to cure her liver failure.

But the 16-year-old, from Bridlington, East Yorkshire, shocked doctors when her condition rapidly improved as a result of a high-carbohydrate diet - which includes copious amounts of chocolate.

After the continued diet, which also includes crisps and biscuits, as well as set medication her miraculous recovery now seem complete after doctors officially removed her from the liver transplant list.

Schoolgirl Elle said 'My friends can't believe it - eating chocolate and crisps and all sorts of junk food, and not having to worry about the consequences. 'It is weird having to eat all these foods excessively when we are told to eat in them only in moderation or risk becoming fat - but I'm not complaining.'

Elle added: 'The doctor said I could have had the liver problems for three to five years before we even realised. 'But we didn't know that because every symptom I had was what every teenager would go through, such as coughs and colds. 'It was all pretty scary.'

Elle's problems began in August last year when she began vomiting heavily and was rushed to hospital. Tests revealed she was seriously ill and her liver was failing, so doctors quickly added her to the national transplant list.

The radical diet - which included chocolate, biscuits, bread and cheese - has been credited with giving her body extra energy, calories and protein - often lacking in people diagnosed with liver failure.

And amazingly, if Elle doesn't eat enough she could suffer muscle-wastage - forcing her to continue scoffing the delicious treats high in calories. The starchy carbohydrates break down into sugar acting as her body's main source of energy.

Elle's mother, Pam Wilkinson-Brown, 50, said 'She is on a high-carbohydrate diet. 'Her life is very different to the life of an average teenager. 'Elle will never be able to drink alcohol because it could kill her. 'She loses energy all the time, but carbohydrates give you energy. She should be eating pasta and rice, but she doesn't like it. 'She eats lots of cheese, bread, chocolate and shortbread. 'For Elle, that's a healthy diet.

'She needs the carbohydrates to give her the energy. The diet is playing a big factor in controlling the illness. But she will never be fully out of the woods, even if she had a transplant.'

Elle was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis, a disease which occurs when the body's immune system attacks cells of the liver, and her liver was failing. And while she is currently suspended from the transplant list doctors have warned Elle she may still need a new liver in the future.

Pam said doctors want to try to keep Elle as well as possible in case they have to consider a transplant. She said she could not thank hospital staff in Scarborough and Leeds, where Elle was treated, enough. Pam added: 'It has been awful, but you get on with it because you have to remove yourself from it. We are very proud of her.

'People automatically think it's just caused through drink, but it's not. 'If we hadn't taken her to hospital, she wouldn't be here now.'


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