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Alzheimer's could be caused by excess sugar: new study finds 'molecular link'

24 February 2017, 04:35 | Rodolfo Wallace

Alzheimer's could be caused by excess sugar: new study finds 'molecular link'

Alzheimer's could be caused by excess sugar: new study finds 'molecular link'

There are 850,000 people with dementia in the United Kingdom, according to the Alzheimer's Society, and numbers are set to rise to over one million by 2025.

Dr. Omar Kassaar, from the University of Bath, warned: "Excess sugar is well known to be bad for us when it comes to diabetes and obesity, but this potential link with Alzheimer's disease is yet another reason that we should be controlling our sugar intake in our diets".

The financial burden of the disease is also great.

The research was led by Dr. Sudha Seshadri, professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), and the findings were published in the journal Neurology.

Lots of research has laid out the ties between the heart and the brain, from how exercise and nutrition affect both organs similarly to how they're similarly affected by stress and depression. FHS is a large cohort study that started in 1948 by enrolling 5,209 men and women aged between 30 and 62 living in the town of Framingham, MA.

The researchers estimated that the risk of dementia grew by nearly 2.5 times for those who found themselves recently needing extra sleep.

BUSM researchers then examined the data collected on sleep duration and calculated the risk of developing dementia. But those people who had a risk for heart disease at the beginning of the study, when they were between the ages of 45 and 64, had a significantly higher risk for dementia, she added.

The team found that people who sleep regularly for 9 hours or more were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's within 10 years, compared with those who consistently slept less than 9 hours.

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Over the course of the study, the risk for dementia increased as expected, Gottesman said.

"Collectively, these results suggest that long sleep duration serves as an early biological marker of neurodegeneration, especially in those with low educational attainment", the researchers wrote.

The study also found that people who slept longer seemed to have smaller brain volumes.

Scientists believe an inability to get out of bed may be a symptom rather than a cause of the brain changes that lead to dementia. As an outcome, they speculate, reducing sleep duration is not likely to lower the risk of dementia.

Sleeping for extended amounts of time may be an early indicator of the cognitive decline in older people, especially among those with lower education levels, researchers report.

Almost 2,500 people were included in the study.

Study limitations cited by the authors included possible confounding due to unrecognized mild cognitive impairment at baseline and the assessment of sleep duration through self-reporting, which may not be reliable.

The early diagnosis of dementia has many important benefits, such as providing a patient the opportunity to more activity direct their future plans and health care decisions.



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