Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Mental stimulation over genetics: How to hold off Alzheimer’s Disease 8+ Years (even APOE4 carriers)

Alzheimers DiseaseFeed­ing the Brain’s Curios­i­ty Helps Delay Alzheimer’s, Study Says (Bloomberg):

Peo­ple genet­i­cal­ly prone to Alzheimer’s who went to col­lege, worked in com­plex fields and stayed engaged intel­lec­tu­al­ly held off the dis­ease almost a decade longer than oth­ers, a study found.

Life­long intel­lec­tu­al activ­i­ties such as play­ing music or read­ing kept the mind fit as peo­ple aged and also delayed Alzheimer’s by years for those at risk of the dis­ease who weren’t col­lege edu­cat­ed or worked at chal­leng­ing jobs, the researchers said in the study pub­lished today in JAMA Neu­rol­o­gy.

Keep­ing your brain men­tal­ly stim­u­lat­ed is a life­long enter­prise,” David Knop­man, a study author and a pro­fes­sor of neu­rol­o­gy at the Mayo Clin­ic in Rochester, Min­neso­ta, said…

Cur­rent­ly there are no effec­tive treat­ments for Alzheimer’s. A report by the Alzheimer’s Asso­ci­a­tion pro­ject­ed that any treat­ment that could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by five years would reduce the expect­ed num­ber of patients with the dis­ease in the U.S. by about 43 per­cent by 2050.”

Study: Asso­ci­a­tion of Life­time Intel­lec­tu­al Enrich­ment With Cog­ni­tive Decline in the Old­er Pop­u­la­tion (JAMA Neu­rol­o­gy). From the abstract:

  • Impor­tance: Intel­lec­tu­al lifestyle enrich­ment through­out life is increas­ing­ly viewed as a pro­tec­tive strat­e­gy against com­mon­ly observed cog­ni­tive decline in the old­er pop­u­la­tion.
  • Objec­tives: To inves­ti­gate the asso­ci­a­tion of life­time intel­lec­tu­al enrich­ment with base­line cog­ni­tive per­for­mance and rate of cog­ni­tive decline in an old­er pop­u­la­tion with­out demen­tia and to esti­mate the years of pro­tec­tion pro­vid­ed against cog­ni­tive impair­ment by these fac­tors.
  • Results:…For APOE4 car­ri­ers with high life­time intel­lec­tu­al enrich­ment (75th per­centile of education/occupation score and midlife to late-life cog­ni­tive activ­i­ty), the onset of cog­ni­tive impair­ment was approx­i­mate­ly 8.7 years lat­er com­pared with low life­time intel­lec­tu­al enrich­ment (25th per­centile of education/occupation score and mid/late-life cog­ni­tive activ­i­ty).
  • Con­clu­sions and Rel­e­vance: High­er education/occupation scores were asso­ci­at­ed with high­er lev­els of cog­ni­tion. High­er lev­els of mid/late-life cog­ni­tive activ­i­ty were also asso­ci­at­ed with high­er lev­els of cog­ni­tion, but the slope of this asso­ci­a­tion slight­ly increased over time. Life­time intel­lec­tu­al enrich­ment might delay the onset of cog­ni­tive impair­ment and be used as a suc­cess­ful pre­ven­tive inter­ven­tion to reduce the impend­ing demen­tia epi­dem­ic.

Relat­ed arti­cles:

Leave a Reply...

Loading Facebook Comments ...

One Response

  1. Steve Zanon says:

    This study is great step in the right direc­tion. The real­i­ty of an Alzheimer’s Dis­ease drug or vac­cine is decades away at best and if one hap­pens to be found in the future it won’t be able to repair the dam­age already done. That will need to be part of an active reha­bil­i­ta­tion or relearn­ing process – rebuild­ing lost cog­ni­tive capac­i­ty. So how do we help or BETTER YET help pre­vent or slow down the next gen­er­a­tion (20+ years) of MCI and demen­tia suf­fers ? Part of the answer lies in stud­ies like this one.

    Alzheimer’s dis­ease is a 30–40 year pro­gres­sive and chron­ic dis­ease – it doesn’t just hap­pen like a switch. The real ques­tion then is why pre­ven­tion activ­i­ties and cog­ni­tive reserve are stud­ied with less pri­or­i­ty than a poten­tial future phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal. We know that autop­sies have shown that the progress of the Alzheimer’s pathol­o­gy and the progress of demen­tia symp­toms are NOT always aligned. Refer “The Nun Study”, amongst oth­ers. Some of this par­tic­u­lar cohort had sig­nif­i­cant Alzheimer’s pathol­o­gy at autop­sy and NO demen­tia symp­toms. The gap between pathol­o­gy and symp­toms is referred to as Cog­ni­tive Reserve and we broad­ly know the lifestyle para­me­ters that build it up over time.

    Giv­en that we know the lifestyle inter­ven­tions for demen­tia risk reduc­tion just like we do for car­dio­vas­cu­lar risk reduc­tion. Why are we not active­ly refin­ing these Cog­ni­tive Reserve para­me­ters with lon­gi­tu­di­nal stud­ies and get­ting some quick wins on the board mea­sured in years not decades ? Slow­ing dis­ease symp­toms for even a few years is a big achieve­ment in Qual­i­ty of Life and will save a mas­sive amount of health care costs.

    This study refers to 8.7 years of poten­tial delay – that’s around 10–15% of the lifes­pan, depend­ing on the coun­try in which you live. At one Sharp­brains con­fer­ence sev­er­al years ago one sci­en­tist men­tioned that if we could delay the dis­ease by 10 years then demen­tia ceas­es to become one of our major health con­cerns. Why then is the bulk of the research effort and mon­ey going toward a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal cure ahead of attempt­ing to incre­men­tal­ly get to 5–10 years of symp­tom delay ?

    In 2010 The Boston Con­sult­ing Group report­ed on the mas­sive­ly decreas­ing pro­duc­tiv­i­ty of drug R&D, which has been in steady decline since the 1950’s. The cost of each New Mol­e­c­u­lar Enti­ty (NME) approved by the FDA has gone up well over 50 times over that peri­od and it con­tin­ues to rise. Giv­en what we already know about Cog­ni­tive Reserve it just doesn’t make eco­nom­ic sense to pri­ori­tise long term phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal clin­i­cal tri­als over lon­gi­tu­di­nal lifestyle research.

    One con­ver­sa­tion we should be hav­ing is around the extend­ing retire­ment age and the Occu­pa­tion­al Health and Safe­ty issues of cog­ni­tive decline. This is an issue for TODAY not one for decades time. Insur­ance com­pa­nies are already look­ing into this and we real­ly need to get onto the front foot with well­ness pro­grams (pre­ven­tion activ­i­ties) deliv­ered in the work­place from mid life.

    Our mus­cu­lar-skele­tal and car­dio­vas­cu­lar sys­tems decline with age – so too does our ner­vous sys­tem, which includes our brains. None of us are immune from this. We ignore the issue at our per­il. How­ev­er there is much we can active­ly do to delay the rate of that decline – exer­cise both phys­i­cal and men­tal helps build reserve capac­i­ty. There are no guar­an­tees in life, and that includes phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, but we can all bet­ter man­age our health risks. I hope that our sci­en­tists can help us out a lit­tle more with that.

    The increas­ing preva­lence of demen­tia is hap­pen­ing right now and this study is great step in the right direc­tion. We need many more stud­ies that fur­ther refine these lifestyle para­me­ters and more impor­tant­ly pub­lic aware­ness cam­paigns that pro­mote the things we know so far. Let’s look more deeply into the incre­men­tal steps for­ward in pub­lic health out­comes.

    Steve Zanon
    Proac­tive Age­ing

Leave a Reply

Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Health & Wellness

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

Search in our archives

Follow us and Engage via…

RSS Feed

Watch All Recordings Now (40+ Speakers, 12+ Hours)