The study, published in the medical journal American Academy of Neurology, evaluated the cardiovascular fitness of women based on an exercise test. The test required 191 women, with an average age of 50, to ride a stationary bike to exhaustion to measure their peak cardiovascular capacity. The workload for a high fitness level was at least 103 watts, while the workload for a low fitness level was 80 watts or less. In total, 40 women met the criteria for a high fitness level, 92 women were in the medium fitness category, and 59 women were in the low fitness category or stopped the exercise test because of chest pain, high blood pressure, or other cardiovascular problems.
Throughout the next 44 years, the participants came back for dementia testing six times. During that time, a total of 44 women developed dementia. Only five percent of highly fit women developed dementia, in comparison to 32 percent of women with low fitness level and 25 percent of moderately fit women. In addition, 45 percent of those who stopped the exercise test developed dementia. Moreover, highly fit women who did develop dementia had the disease an average of 11 years later compared to moderately fit women, or at 90 years old instead of 79.
Simple ways to increase your cardiovascular fitness
It is important to make According to research, high-intensity exercise performed in intervals or for short bursts of time can improve cardiovascular fitness. There are five everyday exercises that can help you enhance your heart rate and your fitness level:
Walking – Instead of a slow-paced walking, walk briskly. The average person weighing 155 pounds (lbs) who walks at a brisk pace of 3.5 miles per hour for 30 minutes can burn about 150 calories. This can also improve your heart rate. If that is too fast for you, try to increase your speed at intervals. Increase your pace for a minute and then go back to a more leisurely walk for the next minute.
Running – When running, try to change your speed and intensity at slightly random intervals. This will allow your heart rate to increase without breaking your energy bank. Try to run hard for 30 seconds with a minute of walking in between.
Strength-training – To keep your heart rate elevated, perform circuits that involve different muscle groups. Alternating exercises that involve various muscles lets you rest the ones you recently worked on, at the same time, continuing to move.
Yoga – To improve your cardiovascular fitness with yoga, try a Vinsaya, power, or flow class. In this type of yoga, you will continuously move with your breath, keeping your heart rate elevated.
Cycling – Whether cycling indoors or outdoors, pedal for 40 seconds with a cadence of 80 and as much resistance as you can endure. Then, pedal for 20 seconds with a 100-stroke cadence but without resistance. Do this 10 times. The spike in resistance when pedaling will make you work harder.
Read more news stories and studies on preventing dementia through exercise by going to Alzheimers.news.
Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2015, 75-year-old Brenda Whittle still enjoys jigsaws, sewing and dancing. New activities are less appealing, but participating in Alzheimer’s research and drug trials is an exception. She’s so at ease with loud brain scans, she even falls asleep during them.
“This can’t be sustained by any medical health system – it is too much in terms of numbers, says Antonella Santuccione-Chadha, a physician and Alzheimer’s specialist based in Switzerland. “And as women are more confronted by the disease, we need to investigate the differences between the male and female specifics of it.”
Much of the gender gap comes down to one of dementia’s biggest risk factors: age. The older you are, the more likely you are to develop late-onset Alzheimer’s. Women typically live longer than men, so more have dementia.
The older you are, the more likely to develop dementia (Credit: Getty Images)
But recent research hints that we would be wrong to assume that ageing means Alzheimer’s is inevitable. Results from two major Cognitive Function and Ageing Studies (CFAS) suggest that over the last 20 years, new dementia cases in the UK have dropped by 20% – driven mostly by a fall in incidence among men over 65 years old.
Over the past 20 years, new dementia cases in the UK have dropped by 20% – driven mostly by a fall in incidence among men over 65
Experts say this may be because of public health campaigns targeting heart disease and smoking. Both are risk factors for Alzheimer’s. But because men tend to get heart disease younger and smoke more than women, these campaigns also may have helped stave off these risk factors more for men than women.
“Sex-specific prevention might start from having more of this information about female-specific risk factors,” says Maria Teresa Ferretti, a biomedical researcher in the field of Alzheimer’s disease at the University of Zurich.
The “quick facts” provided by the Alzheimer’s Association are pretty concerning: More than five million people in America are living with Alzheimer’s, and that number is projected to reach 16 million by the year 2050. As the sixth leading cause of death in our nation, it kills more Americans than prostate cancer and breast cancer combined. Someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s every 66 seconds; will you be one of them?
With statistics like these, it’s no wonder that people want to do everything they can to reduce their odds. However, it’s also important to note that Alzheimer’s is only one of the potential causes of dementia. While many people use the terms interchangeably, Alzheimer’s is really only responsible for around 50 to 70 percent of dementia cases. The misleading terminology is obscuring one very dark fact about dementia: Many times, it’s being caused not by something scientists are still struggling to understand like Alzheimer’s but rather by things that are masquerading as tools for good health; vaccines and prescription drugs.
In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association that publicizes these statistics is subsidized by Big Pharma. It’s simply good business sense that they want people to believe that every memory-loss patient falls under the Alzheimer’s umbrella because then they can sell you drugs that purportedly address it. Their research has led them to an approach that pays dividends: promoting and destigmatizing what many think of as “mental illnesses,” making them seem unpreventable but manageable with drugs. Many people who work for the Alzheimer’s Association and similar organizations are well-meaning people who want to help and are often unaware of the connection to Big Pharma.
You have more control over “dementia” than you’re being led to believe
It’s no coincidence that dementia cases have been spiking during the same time that children and adults alike are being over-vaccinated (flu shot, anyone?) and the over-prescription of brain-altering drugs like antidepressants is prevalent.
A help guide based on a Harvard University report admits as much. According to the report, “medications are common culprits in mental decline.” As the body ages, the liver’s efficiency when it comes to metabolizing drugs declines, and the kidneys do not eliminate them as quickly as they once did. This causes the drugs to accumulate in the body, which means those who take multiple medications are particularly susceptible to this effect.
Included in the list of drugs published in the guide that cause dementia-like symptoms are antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, sedatives, corticosteroids, narcotics, antihistamines, cardiovascular drugs, and anticonvulsants. It’s a very broad range of drugs, and many elderly people take medications from one or more of those categories. In fact, you might want to go check your medicine cabinet right now.
A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine correlated the use of popular medications like Benadryl and other anticholinergic drugs with dementia onset. According to the researchers, patients who took these medications for three years or more had a 54 percent higher chance of going on to develop the disorder.
Vaccines are also responsible for causing symptoms mistaken for dementia. People in their 40s are increasingly being diagnosed with “dementia,” and experts believe that environmental factors must be responsible in these cases. Mercury-containing thimerosalwas used widely in childhood vaccines until 2001 and remains in some vaccines, including flu shots, to this day. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that exposure to mercury could produce many of the changes that are seen in Alzheimer’s patients, including impaired cognitive function and memory as well as confusion.
Researcher Richard Deth stated: “Mercury is clearly contributing to neurological problems, whose rate is increasing in parallel with rising levels of mercury. It seems that the two are tied together.”
Another common ingredient found in vaccines, aluminum, has been linked to dementia as well.
It’s a pretty smart way to keep the profit machine turning for Big Pharma: Convince people they need vaccines or drugs, and when those vaccines or drugs cause further side effects and illnesses, sell them even more drugs to counteract them. And the best part for them is that because mental decline is involved, it reduces the chances that people will wake up to what is really going on here.
By Crawford KilianToday | TheTyee.ca Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee and at 77 considers himself “cognitively OK.”
According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, 1,125,000 Canadians will have dementia in 20 years. The cumulative economic burden will be $872 billion, and the demand for long-term care will increase tenfold.
In 2008, just over 100,000 new dementia cases were diagnosed each year in Canada. By 2038, the ASC predicts more than 250,000 new cases each year. About half of those diagnosed with dementia will have Alzheimer’s disease.
Like death itself, such numbers don’t bear thinking about. Nor do we want to think about our own partners and children dedicating their old age to caring for us.
But a lot of experts are thinking hard about this problem, and one of them is 90-year-old neuroscientist Dr. Patrick McGeer. Now CEO of Aurin Biotech, McGeer had a long career at the University of British Columbia as well as a tumultuous one as a Liberal and Socred MLA and cabinet minister from 1962 to 1986. He may have dropped out of the public eye after leaving politics, but McGeer has kept very busy.
Since 1990, McGeer has been studying the causes of Alzheimer’s. Now, almost 30 years later, he says a simple test can identify those at risk, and an over-the-counter pain reliever can prevent it.
When we hear a strong claim, we expect strong evidence. And if the evidence holds up, we need to explore the implications.
A ‘crazy hypothesis’
McGeer’s evidence is indeed generally strong. In a recent review article in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, McGeer and his colleagues summarize how their view of Alzheimer’s went from a “crazy hypothesis” in the 1980s to today’s widely accepted view that neuroinflammation causes damage to brain cells. That in turn results in Alzheimer’s.
In 1990, McGeer reported in the British journal The Lancet that patients using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) for rheumatoid arthritis seemed to develop fewer cases of Alzheimer’s than statistics said they should. Further research indicated that a major cause of neuroinflammation was a buildup of “amyloid-β” protein in the brain. Eventually, over years, this Aβ buildup destroys nearby nerve cells and results in Alzheimer’s.
Further research by McGeer and others established that NSAIDS — like aspirin and ibuprofen — could reduce the number of Alzheimer’s cases below the rate to be expected in a given group. But there was no effect unless the NSAIDS were administered well before the members of the group were statistically likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Once diagnosed, Alzheimer’s wasn’t affected by NSAIDS.
McGeer and his team found a solution: Aβ may accumulate in brain cells, but it’s produced in all body tissues. A simple saliva test seems able to detect Aβ levels — and these can predict the likelihood that a given individual will develop Alzheimer’s. Some people produce low levels of Aβ all their lives, and don’t develop Alzheimer’s; other produce high levels, and are virtually certain to develop it.
Six phases of Alzheimer’s
In their review article, McGeer and his colleagues wrote: “A theoretical construct suggests the development of AD [Alzheimer’s] goes through six phases, each with decreasing opportunity for therapeutic intervention. Since the prevalence of clinical AD commences at age 65, the prevalence for actual AD disease onset can be hypothesized to occur at least 10 years earlier, or at age 55. Without intervention, the prevalence will then double every five years…. Any strategy which limits Aβ production, enhances its clearance, or prevents its aggregation, should be disease modifying. Effectiveness of treatment should be measurable by CSF Aβ levels returning toward normal.”
A major Canadian observational study identified alcohol use disorders as the biggest risk factor for the onset of dementia. It’s also the most preventable factor, so people wary of early-onset dementia can avoid it by controlling their alcohol intake, reported a ScienceDaily article.
Implemented by the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and published in The Lancet Public Health journal, the study took a very close look at the effect of alcohol use disorders. To this end, it canvassed the health records of more than a million French citizens.
The study included patients with mental and behavioral disorders or chronic diseases caused by chronic heavy drinking.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “chronic heavy drinking” is defined as the daily consumption of more than 60 grams of pure alcohol for men and 40 grams for women. WHO identifies alcohol consumption as the root cause of more than 200 diseases and injuries, including mental and behavioral disorders.
For their study, CAMH researchers viewed 57,000 cases of early-onset dementia, where the patient developed dementia before turning 65. They found that 57 percent of these cases were linked to chronic heavy drinking.
The significant association between chronic heavy drinking and dementia led the authors to suggest several actions that would reduce the burden of dementia attributed to alcohol. They believed screening, brief interventions for heavy drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders would be highly effective in curbing the onset of dementia.
“The findings indicate that heavy drinking and alcohol use disorders are the most important risk factors for dementia, and especially important for those types of dementia which start before age 65, and which lead to premature deaths,” remarked Dr. Jürgen Rehm, the co-author of the massive study and Director of the CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research.
He warned that alcohol use disorders have been proven to reduce life expectancy by more than 20 years. He identified dementia as a major cause of death for people who suffered from alcohol-related disorders.
More women suffer from dementia, but more men get early-onset dementia
Dr. Rehm and his team identified a major gender split for early-onset dementia patients. Women comprised the majority of dementia patients, but two out of every three early-onset dementia patients turned out to be men.
Other independent risk factors for the onset of dementia included smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and hearing loss. These factors are also linked to alcohol use disorders.
The data from the study imply that alcohol use disorders can increase the risk of dementia in more ways than one.
“As a geriatric psychiatrist, I frequently see the effects of alcohol use disorder on dementia, when unfortunately alcohol treatment interventions may be too late to improve cognition,” said Dr. Bruce Pollock, co-author and Vice-President of Research for CAMH.
Much like his colleague, Dr. Pollock advised treating the alcohol use disorder ahead of time before dementia takes over.
“Screening for and reduction of problem drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders need to start much earlier in primary care,” he said.
One limitation of the study was that it only covered the most severe cases of alcohol use disorder. The authors explained that they focused on cases that required hospitalization.
Patients are often reluctant to report alcohol-related problems due to social stigma regarding alcoholics. The correlation between alcoholism and dementia could be even higher than the study has shown.
Summary: According to researchers, alcohol use disorder poses an increased risk for the early development of dementia.
Alcohol use disorders are the most important preventable risk factors for the onset of all types of dementia, especially early-onset dementia. This according to a nationwide observational study, published in The Lancet Public Health journal, of over one million adults diagnosed with dementia in France.
This study looked specifically at the effect of alcohol use disorders, and included people who had been diagnosed with mental and behavioural disorders or chronic diseases that were attributable to chronic harmful use of alcohol.
Of the 57,000 cases of early-onset dementia (before the age of 65), the majority (57%) were related to chronic heavy drinking.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines chronic heavy drinking as consuming more than 60 grams pure alcohol on average per day for men (4-5 Canadian standard drinks) and 40 grams (about 3 standard drinks) per day for women.
As a result of the strong association found in this study, the authors suggest that screening, brief interventions for heavy drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders should be implemented to reduce the alcohol-attributable burden of dementia.
“The findings indicate that heavy drinking and alcohol use disorders are the most important risk factors for dementia, and especially important for those types of dementia which start before age 65, and which lead to premature deaths,” says study co-author and Director of the CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research Dr. Jürgen Rehm. “Alcohol-induced brain damage and dementia are preventable, and known-effective preventive and policy measures can make a dent into premature dementia deaths.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines chronic heavy drinking as consuming more than 60 grams pure alcohol on average per day for men (4-5 Canadian standard drinks) and 40 grams (about 3 standard drinks) per day for women. NeuroscienceNews.com image is adapted from the CAMH news release.
Dr. Rehm points out that on average, alcohol use disorders shorten life expectancy by more than 20 years, and dementia is one of the leading causes of death for these people.
For early-onset dementia, there was a significant gender split. While the overall majority of dementia patients were women, almost two-thirds of all early-onset dementia patients (64.9%) were men.
Alcohol use disorders were also associated with all other independent risk factors for dementia onset, such as tobacco smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, lower education, depression, and hearing loss, among modifiable risk factors. It suggests that alcohol use disorders may contribute in many ways to the risk of dementia.
“As a geriatric psychiatrist, I frequently see the effects of alcohol use disorder on dementia, when unfortunately alcohol treatment interventions may be too late to improve cognition,” says CAMH Vice-President of Research Dr. Bruce Pollock. “Screening for and reduction of problem drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders need to start much earlier in primary care.” The authors also noted that only the most severe cases of alcohol use disorder – ones involving hospitalization – were included in the study. This could mean that, because of ongoing stigma regarding the reporting of alcohol-use disorders, the association between chronic heavy drinking and dementia may be even stronger.
Scientists are continuously discovering new ways that cannabis can benefit human health. Typically, researchers publish these discoveries in peer-reviewed journals. Yet, most cannabis research never makes its way into mainstream news. In the public eye, these studies go unnoticed.
Here are five examples of cannabis research that warrant our attention.
Opioids have recently received a fair share of scrutiny, and for a good reason. Thomas Gilson, the medical examiner for Cuyahoga County, Ohio, stated:
“If you look at how many people die in the country from opiate overdose, we’re looking at the same number of casualties as the entire Vietnam conflict.”
Could cannabis be a safer treatment for pain, without the high risk of overdose?
New cannabis research from Israel examined the safety of cannabis use among the elderly. The researchers administered cannabis treatment to 2,736 patients, with a median age of 74.5.
Research participants answered an initial questionnaire. During the study, two-thirds of the participants took cannabis for pain, and another 60.8% for cancer. After six months of cannabis treatment, the researchers administered another questionnaire.
After six months of treatment, 93.7% of the respondents reported improvement in their condition and the reported pain level was reduced from a median of 8 on a scale of 0-10 to a median of 4. After six months, 18.1% stopped using opioid analgesics or reduced their does.
Our study finds that the therapeutic use of cannabis is safe and efficacious in the elderly population. Cannabis use may decrease the use of other prescription medicines, including opioids.
This research shows that cannabis has promise when it comes to offering an alternative to opioids.
2. Cannabis May Protect Alcohol Users from Liver Disease
We’ve all heard that drinking too much alcohol compromises liver health. Do the observed anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis also affect the development of liver disease?
A group of researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School set out to “determine the effects of cannabis use on the incidence of liver disease in individuals who abuse alcohol.” In their study, they analyzed discharge records from the 2014 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project – Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS)
They studied four phases of liver disease in 319,000 patients, who had a past or current history of abusive alcohol use. The stages include: alcoholic steatosis (AS) or alcoholic fatty liver; steatohepatitis (AH) or non-alcoholic fatty liver; cirrhosis (AC); and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or essentially liver cancer.
Our study revealed that among alcohol users, individuals who additionally use cannabis (dependent and non-dependent cannabis use) showed significantly lower odds of developing AS, AH, AC and HCC. Further, dependent users had significantly lower odds than non-dependent users for developing liver disease.
One of the biggest anti-cannabis arguments is that it impairs our cognitive abilities. Yet, is cannabis really all that bad for the brain?
According to recent animal research published in May 2017, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has a beneficial influence on the aging brain. Researchers tested the learning, memory, orientation and recognition skills in laboratory animals. They found that 18-month-old mice given THC demonstrated cognitive skills equal to 2-month-old controls. On the other hand, the placebo group showed cognitive deterioration normal in their age group.
Neurobiologist Andreas Zimmer of the University of Bonn stated:
The treatment completely reversed the loss of performance in the old animals. We repeated these experiments many times. It’s a very robust and profound effect.” Even more remarkable, gene activity and the molecular profile in the brain tissue was that of much younger animals. Specifically, neurons in the hippocampus grew more synaptic spines — points of contact necessary for communication between neurons.
Rather than dulling or impairing cognition, THC appears to reverse the aging process and improve mental processes. This raises the possibility it might be useful for the treatment of dementia.
4. Cannabinoids Have Anti-Tumor Potential
There is a plethora of anecdotal evidence that cannabinoids have helped patients slow down, control or even reverse cancer disease. Thus, many researchers have set out to understand the exact effect that cannabinoids have on cancer cells.
Specifically, much research surrounds the effects of THC and cannabidiol (CBD) cannabinoids, with many studies concluding that cannabis kills cancer cells.
For example, Dr. Christina Sanchez from the Complutense University of Madrid was involved in several studies that indicated THC is a cancer killer. One of her studies entailed the application of THC compounds to brain cancer cell cultures.
Sanchez and her team discovered that after being treated with THC, cancer cells were committing suicide. Sanchez explains why cannabis treatment is preferred over conventional treatments:
One of the advantages of cannabinoids, or cannabinoid based medicines, would be that they target a specifically, tumor cells. They don’t have any toxic effect on normal, non-tumoral cells. This is an advantage with respect to standard chemotherapy that target basically everything.
In another study, a synthetic form of THC called Dronabinol was just as effective. Researchers from University Hospital Tübingen in Germany evaluated the anti-leukemic efficacy of THC. They administered this cannabinoid to several types of leukemia cells ex vivo.
Our study provides rigorous data to support clinical evaluation of THC as a low-toxic therapy option in a well-defined subset of acute leukemia patients.
Mounting cannabis research indicates that cannabinoids may become the most promising cancer treatments yet available. Dr. Allen Herman, Chief Medical Officer at Cannabis Science, states:
Cannabis Science believes that cannabis extracts are critical instruments in cancer treatment and that we have an obligation to produce and make available the most effective and efficient cannabis products to our anti-cancer modalities.
5. Cannabis’ Impact on Cardiovascular Health is Still Unclear
There is some speculation that cannabis use may increase your risk of hypertension. But how much do we really know about the link between cardiovascular health and cannabis?
A group of researchers in California, Pennsylvania and New York evaluated 24 studies to see if they could identify a clear correlation. All the studies enrolled adults using some form of cannabis.
Some of the evaluated studies examined associations between cannabis use and vascular risk factors. These risk factors include hyperglycemia, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and obesity. The remainder of the studies examined the link between cannabis use and outcomes such as stroke, myocardial infarction, cardiovascular mortality, and all-cause mortality.
In the end, the researchers concluded that all of the evaluated studies were insufficient in offering sound evidence.
Evidence examining the effect of marijuana on diabetes, dyslipidemia, acute myocardial infarction, stroke, or cardiovascular and all-cause mortality was insufficient. Although the current literature includes several long-term prospective studies, they are limited by recall bias, inadequate exposure assessment, minimal marijuana exposure, and a predominance of low-risk cohorts.
The lack of mainstream reporting on cannabis research results from persistent opposition to the medical cannabis movement. Federal drug laws have stigmatized cannabis use, equating it to heroine and crack cocaine. As well, the mainstream medical industry aligns with the belief that cannabis is a dangerous drug. Therefore, it will take some time for the mainstream to recognize and publicize discoveries of the many health benefits of cannabis.
Regardless, it is important to remember that potential downsides to cannabis use do exist. As with all substances that affect the body, adverse effects may surface. With cannabis, for example, these effects include dizziness and increased anxiety. All the researchers involved in the studies mentioned herein have concluded that more cannabis research is imperative to fully understand the benefits and potential dangers of this plant.
Anna Hunt is writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Waking Times or its staff.
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