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  • A large Irish study found that belly fat was linked to poorer cognition in older adults, while BMI was not, probably because it doesn't distinguish between muscle and fat.

Data from over 5,000 individuals found that a measure of belly fat (waist:hip ratio) was associated with reduced cognitive function in older Irish adults (60+). Body mass index (BMI), however, was found to protect cognitive function.

  • Compounds found in green tea and carrots reversed Alzheimer's-like symptoms in mice.

A diet containing compounds found in green tea and carrots reversed Alzheimer's-like symptoms in mice genetically programmed to develop the disease.

  • A mouse study suggests that vitamin D deficiency impairs cognition through its effect on neuronal connections in the hippocampus.

A mouse study helps explain why vitamin D is so important for cognition. After 20 weeks of no vitamin D, the healthy adult mice showed a significant decline in their ability to remember and learn.

  • A study found that higher levels of several key nutrients were associated with more efficient brain connectivity and better cognitive performance in older adults.

A study involving 116 healthy older adults (65-75) has found that higher levels of several key nutrients in the blood were associated with more efficient brain connectivity and better cognitive performance.

  • A large, long-running study found that self-reported diet during midlife was not linked to later dementia risk.

A long-running study involving 8225 adults found that self-reported diet during midlife (mean age 50) was not significantly associated with subsequent risk for dementia.

  • A large, long-running study of middle-aged men found that higher dietary intake of choline was linked to a lower risk of dementia and better memory & verbal abilities.
  • A mouse study found that offspring of those given high amounts of choline showed better memory. Both mother and offspring showed lower levels of inflammation in the hippocampus.

Dietary choline linked to reduced dementia risk & better cognition

  • A large study found that higher levels of LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) were linked to a higher risk of early-onset Alzheimer's. There was no link between HDL levels and early-onset risk.
  • A long-running study of middle-aged women found that low levels of HDL cholesterol were associated with more vascular brain damage in later life.

High LDL linked to

  • Studies involving genetically engineered mice found that canola oil was linked to worse cognition, more amyloid plaques, and greater synapse loss, while extra-virgin olive oil was linked to fewer plaques, less inflammation, and better memory.

A mouse study has found that canola oil in the diet was associated with worsened memory, worsened learning ability, and weight gain in Alzheimer's mice.

  • A review of the safety and effectiveness of the four drugs approved for Alzheimer's treatment found that donepezil was the most effective, but also the most likely to produce side effects.
  • A small study found that combining a specific care management program with memantine multiplied the drug’s ability to improve daily function by about 7.5 times.

I rarely report on drugs, but because I do have a number of early reports on the four drugs approved for use with Alzheimer’s, I wanted to provide this update.

  • A small study has found that older adults (average age 68) are less able to recognize when they made errors.

A small study comparing 38 younger adults (average age 22) and 39 older adults (average age 68) found that the older adults were less able to recognize when they made errors.

  • A large study found that mentally stimulating activities in mid-life and later were linked to a lower risk or delay of MCI.
  • A very large study found that the more regularly older adults played puzzles such as crosswords and Sudoku, the better they performed on tasks assessing attention, reasoning and memory.
  • A review of 32 studies has concluded that mind-body exercises such as tai chi do help improve cognition in older adults.

Can computer use, crafts and games slow or prevent age-related memory loss?

  • A large, long-running study found those with a college education maintained good cognition substantially longer than those who didn't complete high school.
  • A very large online study found that higher levels of education were strong predictors of better cognitive performance across all ages (15-60 years), but this was more true for types of cognition such as reasoning and less true for processing speed.
  • A large study of older men found that their cognitive ability at age 20 was a stronger predictor of cognitive function later in life than other factors, such as higher education, occupational complexity or engaging in late-life intellectual activities.

Americans with a college education live longer without dementia and Alzheimer's

  • A very large, very long-running British study found that higher social contact at age 60 was associated with a significantly lower risk of developing dementia.
  • A 3-year study of older adults found that lower social engagement was only associated with greater cognitive decline in those with higher amyloid-beta levels.

Socially active 60-year-olds face lower dementia risk

  • A large long-running study found that stressful life experiences (but not traumatic events) during middle-age were associated with greater memory decline in later life — but only for women.
  • A large long-running study found that middle-aged adults with higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol had poorer cognition than those with average cortisol levels, and this was also associated with greater brain atrophy.
  • A study found that older adults (65-95) who responded to stressful events with more negative emotions showed greater fluctuations in cognitive performance.

Stressors in middle age linked to cognitive decline in older women

Data from some 900 older adults has linked stressful life experiences among middle-aged women, but not men, to greater memory decline in later life.

  • A large study indicates that visual impairment can play a role in age-related cognitive decline.

A study involving more than 2,500 older adults (65+) found that the rate of worsening vision was associated with the rate of cognitive decline. More importantly, vision has a stronger influence on cognition than the reverse.

  • A very large Taiwanese study found that adults with hearing loss had a higher dementia risk, and this was particularly so for those aged 45-64.
  • A very large Japanese study found that a dramatically greater proportion of older adults (65+) with hearing loss reported memory loss, compared to much fewer of those without hearing loss.
  • A very large study found that older adults (50+) who used hearing aids for hearing loss showed better performance on tests of working memory and attention compared with those who didn't use hearing aids for their hearing loss.
  • A large long-running study found that, while hearing impairment was associated with accelerated cognitive decline in older adults (mean age 73.5), the impact might be lessened by higher education.
  • A very large 8-year study found that hearing loss was associated with higher risk of subjective cognitive decline in older men (62+).
  • A very small study suggests that cognitive problems in some older adults may derive directly from hearing impairments, and may be fixed by addressing this.
  • A large, long-running study found that eating a healthy diet was associated with a lower risk of acquired hearing loss in women.

Hearing loss linked to increased dementia risk

  • A very large Canadian study found that older adults with chronic insomnia performed significantly worse on cognitive tests.
  • A small study links older adults' increasing difficulties with consolidating memories to poorer synchronization of brainwaves during sleep.
  • A fruitful study shows that oxidative stress drives sleep, and that this is regulated by a specific molecule that monitors the degree of oxidative stress.

Chronic insomnia linked to memory problems

  • Adults whose sleep quality declined in their 40s and 50s had more amyloid-beta in their brains later in life, while those reporting poorer sleep in their 50s and 60s had more tau tangles.
  • Greater tau protein was associated with less synchronized brainwaves during sleep.
  • Both amyloid-beta and tau levels increase dramatically after a single night of sleep deprivation, suggesting good sleep helps remove these proteins.
  • A large study found that older adults who consistently slept more than nine hours every night had twice the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease within the next 10 years.
  • A large Japanese study found that those with sleep durations of less than 5 hours or more than 10 hours were more likely to develop dementia. However, those with short sleep could mitigate the effect with high physical activity.
  • A largish 12-year study found that poorer REM sleep was associated with an increased dementia risk.
  • Sleep apnea has been linked to higher levels of tau in the entorhinal cortex, poorer attention and memory, and slower processing speed.
  • Those with the APOE4 gene may be particularly vulnerable to the ill effects of sleep apnea.

Disrupted sleep in one's 50s, 60s raises Alzheimer's risk

  • A very large Korean study found older adults with chronic periodontitis had a 6% higher risk for dementia.
  • Two animal studies found that the bacteria involved in gum disease increases amyloid-beta, brain inflammation, and neuron death.

Periodontitis raises dementia risk

  • A large study finds those who go on to develop Alzheimer's show atrophy of the hippocampus before age 40, and in the amygdala around age 40.

Brain scans from over 4,000 people, across the age range (9 months to 94 years) and including 1,385 Alzheimer's patients, has revealed an early divergence between those who go on to develop Alzheimer’s and those who age normally.

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