Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s disease

Toxic algae blooms and dementia

8 Feb

Living on the shores of Lake Erie, I am very much aware of the dangers of toxic algae blooms. Here is a recent article on the hypothetical link between these blooms and human diseases including dementia.

“We have discovered that chronic exposure to an environmental toxin triggers Alzheimer’s-type pathology in the brain,” he told CBS News. “Thus people can reduce their risk of disease simply by avoiding exposure to cyanobacteria in harmful algal blooms or contaminated foodstuffs.”

You can find the original paper here. One interesting note is the potential protective effect of the amino acid L-serine.

Animal-assisted therapy for patients with dementia

14 Dec

A study published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that animal assisted therapy slowed the progression of dementia:

To investigate the efficacy of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) on symptoms of agitation/aggression and depression in nursing home residents with dementia in a randomized controlled trial. Previous studies have indicated that AAT has beneficial effects on neuropsychiatric symptoms in various psychiatric disorders but few studies have investigated the efficacy of AAT in patients suffering from dementia.

Of 65 nursing home residents with dementia (mean [standard deviation] age: 81.8 [9.2] years; mean Mini–Mental State Examination score: 7.1 [0.7]), 27 matched pairs (N = 54) were randomly assigned to either treatment as usual or treatment as usual combined with AAT, administered over 10 weekly sessions. Blinded raters assessed cognitive impairment with the Mini–Mental State Examination, presence of agitation/aggression with the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory, and depression with the Dementia Mood Assessment Scale at baseline and during a period of 4 weeks after AAT intervention.

In the control group, symptoms of agitation/aggression and depression significantly increased over 10 weeks; in the intervention group, patients receiving combined treatment displayed constant frequency and severity of symptoms of agitation/aggression (F1,48 = 6.43; p <0.05) and depression (F1,48 = 26.54; p <0.001). Symptom amelioration did not occur in either group.

AAT is a promising option for the treatment of agitation/aggression and depression in patients with dementia. Our results suggest that AAT may delay progression of neuropsychiatric symptoms in demented nursing home residents. Further research is needed to determine its long-time effects.”

Androgen deprivation therapy and Alzheimer’s Risk

11 Dec

Evidence that a widely used treatment for prostate cancer may be linked to Alzheimer’s disease has been receiving a lot of attention. The study, based on an analysis of electronic medical records, was published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology. Here is the abstract:

“Purpose To test the association of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) in the treatment of prostate cancer with subsequent Alzheimer’s disease risk.

Methods We used a previously validated and implemented text-processing pipeline to analyze electronic medical record data in a retrospective cohort of patients at Stanford University and Mt. Sinai hospitals. Specifically, we extracted International Classification of Diseases-9th revision diagnosis and Current Procedural Terminology codes, medication lists, and positive-present mentions of drug and disease concepts from all clinical notes. We then tested the effect of ADT on risk of Alzheimer’s disease using 1:5 propensity score–matched and traditional multivariable-adjusted Cox proportional hazards models. The duration of ADT use was also tested for association with Alzheimer’s disease risk.

Results There were 16,888 individuals with prostate cancer meeting all inclusion and exclusion criteria, with 2,397 (14.2%) receiving ADT during a median follow-up period of 2.7 years (interquartile range, 1.0-5.4 years). Propensity score–matched analysis (hazard ratio, 1.88; 95% CI, 1.10 to 3.20; P = .021) and traditional multivariable-adjusted Cox regression analysis (hazard ratio, 1.66; 95% CI, 1.05 to 2.64; P = .031) both supported a statistically significant association between ADT use and Alzheimer’s disease risk. We also observed a statistically significant increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease with increasing duration of ADT (P = .016).

Conclusion Our results support an association between the use of ADT in the treatment of prostate cancer and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in a general population cohort. This study demonstrates the utility of novel methods to analyze electronic medical record data to generate practice-based evidence.”

Here is Dr. Greger on prostate cancer and diet:



Memory Champion Nelson Dellis Memorizes a Deck of Cards Underwater

19 Oct

I saw Nelson Dellis demonstrate his skills at last year’s Association for Psychological Science meeting. Here he memorizes a deck of cards underwater while holding his breath:



Nelson raises money to fight at Alzheimer’s disease at his web site.

Video on Alzheimer’s Risk Factors

25 Sep

From Science Daily.

“Nine potentially modifiable risk factors may contribute to up to two thirds of Alzheimer’s disease cases worldwide”

Too much TV does not cause Alzheimer’s disease (but it does correlate with it)

29 Jul

Once again the media jump from correlational findings to make causal claims. Here is the headline in The Washington Post:

“Too much TV could raise the risk of Alzheimer’s, study suggests”

At least they qualified it with the words “study suggests.”

Brief cognitive tests predict dementia 18 years before onset

13 Jul

A paper in the journal Neurology:

“Objective: To examine the relation of performance on brief cognitive tests to development of clinically diagnosed Alzheimer disease (AD) dementia over the following 18 years in a sample of African Americans and European Americans.

Methods: A composite cognitive test score based on tests of episodic memory, executive function, and global cognition was constructed in a prospective population-based sample of 2,125 participants (55% African American and 61% female) aged 65 years and older residing in 4 Chicago neighborhoods. Time before AD dementia diagnosis was categorized into 6 groups corresponding to data collection periods: 0.1–0.9, 1.0–3.9, 4.0–6.9, 7.0–9.9, 10.0–12.9, and 13.0–17.9 years.

Results: Of 2,125 participants without clinical AD dementia, 442 (21%) developed clinical AD dementia over 18 years of follow-up. Lower composite cognitive test scores were associated with the development of AD dementia over the duration of the study. The magnitude of association between composite cognitive test score and development of AD dementia increased from an odds ratio of 3.39 (95% confidence interval 1.72, 6.67; p < 0.001) at 13.0–17.9 years to 9.84 (95% confidence interval 7.41, 13.06; p < 0.001) at 0.1–0.9 years, per SD increment. These associations were consistently larger among European Americans than among African Americans. Performance on individual cognitive tests of episodic memory, executive function, and global cognition also significantly predicted the development of AD dementia, with associations exhibiting a similar trend over 18 years.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that cognitive impairment may manifest in the preclinical phase of AD dementia substantially earlier than previously established.”

Here is the press release. The article is behind a paywall, so I cannot tell you which tests were used.


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