Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Can a "healthy" lifestyle prevent Alzheimer's?

This is the usual nonsense. The researchers themselves found that education was a big factor and education is a social class component. All that they have shown is that Alzheimer's is one of the many ailments that are more frequent in lower class people. That such people have a disapproved-of lifestyle is incidental

Half of all Alzheimer’s disease cases could be prevented by lifestyle changes such as exercise, eating healthily and not smoking, claim researchers. They say hundreds of thousands of patients could potentially avoid the devastating illness by simply changing bad habits.

Around 820,000 people in Briton suffer from dementia, of whom half have Alzheimer’s, and this is expected to rise to a million within the next ten years.

For the first time, scientists have calculated the extent to which certain lifestyle traits – including lack of exercise, smoking and obesity – all contribute to the disease. Researchers found that in the Western world, an inactive ‘couch potato’ lifestyle was the most important possible cause. Smoking, obesity in middle-age, high blood pressure and diabetes all increased the risk. Together, the modifiable risk factors contributed to 50 per cent of Alzheimer’s cases worldwide.

The study, published in the journal Lancet Neurology, found that not going to secondary school also made developing the disease more likely.

The researchers did not explain why education was important in reducing the risk of dementia, but it backs up several major studies that have found that spending years at school and university appeared to protect against memory loss in old age.

Scientists speculate that intense studying may make the brain better equipped to cope with the symptoms.

The Alzheimer’s Society has predicted that by 2021 there will be more than a million Britons living with dementia and this will rise to 1.7million by 2050. The numbers are expected to soar as more people live until their 80s and 90s, when they are at highest risk.

But there is now growing evidence that the disease may be partly caused by unhealthy diets, smoking, high blood pressure and cholesterol as they cause damage to blood vessels in the brain, leading to death of brain cells.

The researchers want to carry out more work to find out how many people can prevent the disease by making small changes to their lifestyle.

Lead researcher Deborah Barnes, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California in San Francisco, said certain causes would be more important in different countries.

In the U.S. and UK, for example, most people go to secondary school but many will lead sedentary ‘couch potato’ lifestyles – so a lack of exercise may be more important.

Dr Barnes, who presented the findings at the Alzheimer’s Association international conference in France, said: ‘In our study, what mattered most was how common the risk factors were in the population. For example, in the U.S., about one third of the population is sedentary, so a large number of Alzheimer’s cases are potentially attributable to physical inactivity.

‘Worldwide, low education was more important because literacy rates are lower or people are not educated beyond elementary school. ‘Smoking also contributed to a large percentage of cases.’

Rebecca Wood, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ‘If further research can prove that the observed risks are causes, then simple changes like quitting smoking and taking regular exercise could have an enormous impact.’


An old scare: Do I pee too frequently?

This seems to be theory and anecdote-based. No evidence is quoted, even though the advice has been around for decades

Dashing to the toilet at every opportunity may be harming your bladder, say experts.

Are you in the habit of always popping to the loo right before you leave the house? Do you avail of every toilet you see when you're out and about – just in case? If so, you may be doing yourself more harm than good with this seemingly innocent habit.

"Some people go to the toilet frequently because they think 'I'd better go before I leave', which you should never do," says Dr Elizabeth Farrell, a gynecologist with the Jean Hailes Foundation for Women's Health. "Frequent trips to the toilet means your bladder never gets a chance to fill up. Then because it never reaches its full volume - it shrinks."

So how many times a day should the average person urinate? "The normal range is between four and six times a day, including up to two visits to the loo during the night," explains Dr Farrell. In other words, once every four hours is considered normal. "Certainly anything under two hours would be too frequent," she adds.

Of course, there are a few factors that influence the frequency of voiding. "It's very dependent on how much you drink and your bladder capacity," says Dr Cindy Pan. "Sometimes people over drink with water, giving themselves urgency of the bladder. Other things that can stimulate the bladder include caffeine, soft drinks and spicy foods." Being dehydrated or suffering from interstitial cystitis are triggers too, adds Dr Farrell.

Getting help and taking steps to rectify the issue is vital to avoid bladder problems later in life, says Dr Farrell. "It is a significant constraint and some women are socially isolated because of it," she explains. "I have patients who come in and say they know where every toilet in the city is, because they're afraid that if they can't find a loo they'll wet themselves."

If you do find yourself doing the dash a bit too often, see your GP to ensure there are no underlying issues. "A urine infection is an abnormal condition that can cause frequent urination, as can diabetes or a neurological problem like a spinal cord injury," says Dr Pan. "Most of the time it's not going to be anything like that, however. It's usually just a behavioral thing."

The good news is that you can learn to retrain your bladder. "The best thing to do is try to hold on a bit more and resist the urge to void all the time," says Dr Pan. She also suggests keeping a diary of your fluid intake and how often you're voiding so you can work with your GP to fix the problem.

Pelvic floor exercises are also a must, says Dr Farrell, particularly post-childbirth. "See a pelvic floor physiotherapist for tips and exercises," she advises.


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