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New Research Digest: Brain Function and Failing
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Dear Valued Customer,

Central Command.

Your brain directs activity in the rest of your body. When it malfunctions, you cannot enjoy life. You cannot maintain health.

Although we are working to reverse engineer the brain and may be able to rebuild the organ in the near future, we do not have full capability yet.

Perhaps that is why we worry so much about loss of memory, cognitive function, and sharpness.

Statistics

Click here to view movie

Video source: http://www.alz.org

» United States

  • Alzheimer's is the 7th leading cause of death in the US
  • One out of every eight people over 65 has the disease
  • For those over 85, one out of every two people is at risk for Alzheimer's

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It causes problems with memory, behavior and thinking that worsen over time, eventually leading to death. Over 5 million people in the United States have the disease. There is no cure. Cases are expected to increase as the large boomer population grows older.

Alzheimers.gov is the US government's free information resource about Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. The site offers tips to plan ahead, caregiver resources, treatment options and more.

The estimated cost of treating Alzheimer's disease in the United States in 2012 is estimated to be $200 billion.

» Worldwide

As of 2010, there were an estimated 35.6 million people with dementia worldwide. This number will nearly double every 20 years, to an estimated 65.7 million in 2030, and 115.4 million in 2050.

Much of the increase will be in developing countries. Already 58% of people with dementia live in developing countries, but by 2050 this will rise to 71%. The fastest growth in the elderly population is taking place in China, India, and their south Asian and western Pacific neighbors.

View the statistics report here.

 

Testing & Evaluation

lifestyles

Alzheimer’s is affected by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. At this time, there is no single genetic test or imaging technique to predict or detect AD.

Genetic Risk

There is a blood test for APOE-e4, the strongest risk gene for Alzheimer's. However, the test is mainly used in clinical trials to identify people at higher risk of developing Alzheimer's. The gene mutation indicates a greater risk, but it does not guarantee that an individual will develop the disease.

Familial Alzheimer’s

Testing also is available for genes that cause autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease (ADAD) or "familial Alzheimer's," a rare form of Alzheimer's that accounts for less than 5 percent of all cases. ADAD runs strongly in families and tends to begin earlier in life.
These testing options should be discussed with a genetic counselor and/or complementary physician.

Physicians can evaluate a patient’s cognitive function after considering the results of mental and cognitive exams.

Mini-Cog Test

The Mini-Cog is a rapid screening test for Alzheimer's disease that takes only 3 to 5 minutes to administer. It is highly accurate. However, if you administer this test and suspect impairment, please do not reach any conclusions without consulting a medical professional.

mDNA Indicators

Thus far, research on mitochondrial DNA has not been able to isolate a specific common variant in individuals who develop the disease.

Brain Imaging Techniques

More recently, a variety of imaging techniques including MRI and positron emission tomography (PET) studies have shown characteristic changes in the brains of patients with AD. As imaging technology develops further, scientists hope to use it to predict and understand Alzheimer’s

 

Prevention

There is no guaranteed method of prevention. However, there are steps that you can take to preserve brain health that experts believe lower the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s Avoidance: Seven Steps

The good news is, the steps that can help prevent Alzheimer’s are steps that will make you healthier in general. Good health will lead you to a good long life, and technology is going to give us even more ways to live better and longer.

Try this quick Memory Quiz to check yourself.

A combination of diet, exercise, stress relief, and mental activity can help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.

There are drugs under development to treat Alzheimer’s and dementia. However, there are no existing cures or preventative medicines. Actively maintaining cognitive function through lifestyle is the only weapon we currently have against mental decline.

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Ray & Terry's Longevity Products

 
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Research
Studies

Deficiency May Contribute to Alzheimer’s and Dementia

NCBI logoCould physicians be overlooking a major contributor (or cause) of Alzheimer’s and dementia, simply because nutrition is not their main focus? Research suggests that B-12 deficiency is related to cognitive decline and that it is an early sign. In fact, there is a possibility that counteracting the deficiency early could help reverse a serious slide.

Some of the signs of B-12 deficiency include: brain fog (trouble focusing), trouble walking, forgetfulness…

Link to Study (PDF)

Rusty Brain?

Wall Street Journal LogoDoes rust (literally) in the brain lead to Alzheimer’s? Research has shown Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease both feature excess iron in the brain.

Increased Vitamin D may Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk

Oxford Press LogoPeople with higher intakes of vitamin D appear to have a significantly lower risk of Alzheimer’s, though not other dementias, according to a new study. A study follow up concluded that higher vitamin D dietary intake was associated with a lower risk of developing AD among older women. 

Genetic Link to Late Onset Alzheimer’s

NCBI logoA new study provides strong evidence that a genetic variant called IDE (insulin degrading enzyme) is a late-onset Alzheimer disease gene that affects risk of the disease.

Zinc Transporters Linked to Alzheimer’s

NCBI logoRecent research suggests that zinc contributes significantly to Alzheimer’s pathology, and manipulation of zinc transporters in AD brains may provide a novel therapeutic strategy.

Enzymes Studied to Restore Cognition

NCBI logoResearch has not yet found a way to remove or prevent the beta amyloid plaque build-up that is associated with Alzheimer’s diseased brain tissue. Other substances, such as phosphosdiesterases (a particular class of enzymes), have been shown to restore memory and cognitive deficits in animal models. These compounds have promise for AD treatment.

Compound Boosts Neurogenesis

Wiley logoEGCG, a compound found in green tea, crosses the blood-brain barrier and boosts cell production in key areas of the brain, enhancing memory and learning. This compound can be used to help improve brain function.

Vitamin E and Cognitive Health

GraphicA study comparing individuals with Alzheimer’s or Mild Cognitive Impairment to individuals without impaired cognitive function showed a link between lower levels of vitamin E in the blood and higher instances of cognitive disease. 

Games & Apps

Try a few brain games to boost your mental acuity. Here you can try a few of the games offered by Lumosity for free.

Luminosity logoLumosity is a fee-based service that provides brain training designed by neuroscientists.

PowerVocab logoPowerVocab is a free app that builds vocabulary as you play the game.

Braingle is a free site that offers games in all Braingleareas of brain training. It features an active community forum and user-generated content keeps the service feeling fresh.

Other apps such as chess games, word games, and math exercises all help strengthen mental power. Keeping the brain strong and healthy now is important to minimize loss of acuity later.

KurzweilAI.net Reports

How memory formation is triggered by stem cells

Old and new neuron cells get together to share the burden of pattern recognition. They store old memories, then bring them up to compare similarities and differences.

New insights into how the brain stores memories

Exactly how does long-term memory get updated? This new insight helps explain how the brain stores memories.

Neurons made from stem cells drive brain activity after transplantation

Researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute have found a way to stimulate stem cell-derived neurons to direct cognitive function after transplantation to an existing neural network.

A better brain implant: listening to single neurons

A thin, flexible electrode developed at the University of Michigan is 10 times smaller than the nearest competition and could make long-term measurements of neural activity practical.

How to detect microvesicles in the bloodstream to diagnose and monitor brain cancer

There’s a promising new solution for diagnosing glioblastoma brain cancer, which are deep in the brain and hard to test for.

New stem-cell-derived cells hold promise for Alzheimer’s, other brain diseases

UC Irvine researchers have created a new stem cell-derived cell type with unique promise for treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

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Create a Mind

AnnouncementNo recent futurist has been more influential than Ray Kurzweil.

His provocative new book explores the most important science project since the Human Genome.

Drawing on the most recent neuroscience research, his own research and inventions in artificial intelligence, and compelling thought experiments, Ray describes his new theory of how the neocortex (the thinking part of the brain) work.

How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed is available now at Amazon.com and BN.com

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Healthy Trivia

TriviaHow much does the average human brain weigh?

a

1 pound

b

3 pounds

c

5 pounds

d

10 pounds

Click here for the answer

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References:

ACS Chem Neurosci. 2012 Nov 21;3(11):832-44. doi: 10.1021/cn3000907. Epub 2012 Oct 1.
Br Med J. 1956 December 15; 2(5006): 1394–1398.
Can Fam Physician. 1981 October; 27: 1474, 1476-[1477].
Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2012 April; 2(4): a006213.
J Alzheimers Dis. 2010 January; 19(1): 363–372.
J Alzheimers Dis. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2011 April 19.
Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 2012, DOI: 10.1002/mnfr.201200035
Neurobiol Aging. 2012 Oct;33(10):2282-90. Epub 2011 Dec 20.
Neurologist. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2011 March 10.
Neurology. 2010 February 9; 74(6): 480–486.
Neurology. 2012 April 3; 78(14): 1038–1042.
PLoS Genet. 2012 April; 8(4): e1002683.
TIME magazine, March 19, 2012, page 14.