With a healthy lifestyle and brain jogging against Alzheimer's?
The treatment options for Alzheimer's disease are still extremely limited and only a delay in the course of the disease can be achieved with the existing therapeutic options. Prevention is therefore all the more important. The positive effects of a healthy lifestyle and regular brain training have been widely reported here, but can these measures actually prevent the onset of the disease?
To what extent Alzheimer's can be avoided through brain jogging or a healthy lifestyle, according to Dr. Thorsten Müller and Gregor Leonhardt from the Medical Proteom Center of the Ruhr University Bochum (RUB) have not yet been clearly answered. There would be indications of the positive effect of corresponding measures, but these could not be applied to all patients. The studies to date have sometimes come to conflicting results. In general, however, there is much to be said for a healthy lifestyle and regular training of cognitive skills.
Two different forms of Alzheimer's disease
Basically, according to the experts, two types of Alzheimer's can be distinguished - the sporadically occurring form of the disease, which occurs frequently from the age of 65, and the genetically inheritable form. Preventive measures can only have an effect with the first form. "In the latter, there are mutations in the genome, which means that the disease occurs very early," said the RUB. Gregor Leonhardt emphasizes that “preventive measures also do little to help with this form of Alzheimer's.” Lifestyle and brain training do not offer any protection here.
Controversial effects of education
The situation is different with sporadic age dementia. Theoretically, many of the known risk factors could be avoided, particularly mentioning obesity, diabetes mellitus and poor education as such. However, the greatest risk factor is rising age and this cannot be eliminated. According to the researchers, the connection with education can also be viewed critically. Because in "31 studies that were carried out in Europe on this topic, 19 studies could establish a positive influence between education and Alzheimer's dementia, but in twelve studies this relationship could not be found," explains Dr. Thorsten Müller. A clear statement can therefore not be made.
What is the effect of lifestyle?
The RUB researchers also refer to another interesting observation in a study of nuns who were examined for Alzheimer's dementia and who underwent a brain autopsy after their death to objectively determine the state of the brain. Although the women had shown no signs of disease during their lifetime, certain proteins that indicate Alzheimer's were detected post mortem, reports the RUB. This raises the question of whether the healthier, less stressful lifestyle in the north of the nuns had an impact on the absence of dementia, even though the typical deposits were present. (fp)