Researchers working at Oxford University say they have detected differences in people’s brains as young as 20 that are similar to those Alzheimer’s patients have.
Alzheimer disease was first detected in 1906 by German neurologist Alois Alzheimer. It causes brain cells to die and its most common form is dementia which affects 460,000 people in the UK alone.
The disease eventually disables people’s ability to function on their own by progressive memory loss, then confusion and personality changes.
No known cause has yet to be identified for the disease but it predominantly hits the elderly. A combination of factors including age, genetics, and diet is thought by most scientists to be the problem.
The researchers at Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry hopes their research can led them to some sort of a marker that’s an indication that somewhere in the distant future that person may develop Alzheimer disease.
They are hoping that by changing the lifestyle of the person identified with the marker while they are young … something as simple as perhaps an extra vitamin, can prevent the disease from occurring in them.
Research has already shown that someone carrying the APOE4 gene is more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, but they don’t know why, and not everyone with the gene will get the disease, and not all dementia patients are carriers of the gene.
Did you know this is world Alzheimer’s day?
Alzheimer’s Disease International issued a report today that estimates the world wide cost of caring for dementia patients has risen to over $600 billion U.S. this year and these costs will triple by 2050 as the world ages.
As more and more people reach old age so to will the cost of dementia related illness increase until an estimated 115 million people will suffer from it by 2050.
Fully 50% of people reaching 85 years of age can expect to exhibit some characteristics of dementia. Things like memory loss, language difficulty, misplacing things, poor judgement, change in personality, and loss of initiative.
The highest cost of dementia occurs in high income countries in the form of long term care such as nursing homes. In low income countries that have almost no long term care infrastructure the costs shift to family members and other non professional care givers.
There is much we don’t understand about dementia and yet the amount of research devoted to it is far less than that given to less costly diseases. Part of the reason for so little research might be due to the fact that it seems to be age related and yet the way that Alzheimer’s eventually destroys the brain is not considered a normal part of aging.
The report advocates that in order to find out more about this very costly and insidious disease that a lot more funding is required to bring research into line with such things as heart disease and cancer.
A super duper B vitamin pill called `TrioBe PPLus’ was given to 168 people over a two year period by Qxford University researchers. The amount of brain shrinkage was then measured in each patient and a significant difference was found between those that took the vitamins and the control group that took a fake pill.
The dummy pill users brain shrinkage as measured by an MRI was 1.08% as compared to the vitamin users 0.76%. These results run contrary to a study done in the U.S. in 2008 that used 340 people with various degrees of memory loss which concluded vitamin B made no measurable difference.
The pill used by the British researchers packs a wallop. It had 300 times the prescribed daily dose of vitamin B12, 4 times the recommended dose of folate, and 15 times the amount of B6 recommended.
In people over 70 years of age about 15% will have some form of mild memory loss that may develop into dementia or Alzheimer’s. Scientist’s are looking for ways to slow down the process where a mild form of memory loss turns into a major one.