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The Risk of Alzheimer’s Increases with Unhealthy Lifestyle

  • 24 July, 2017
Risk Unhealthy Lifestyle

A diet high in sugar and unhealthy fats is the latest risk associated with Alzheimer’s disease, the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.

The gene associated with late-onset Alzheimer’s is called ApoE4 – and it is responsible for regulating cholesterol in the brain and the transportation of fat. A variant of this gene is also responsible for increased rates of heart disease and the cognitive decline in this disease.

More women are affected by Alzheimer’s than men, and if women have one copy of this gene, their chances of getting the disease quadruple.

Scientists at the University of Southern California studied the effect of a high calorie diet in mice with this aforementioned gene. In two groups, they fed one set of mice a diet of 10% fat and 7% sugar, and the other group 45% fat and 17% sugar, otherwise known as a typical western diet.

The unhealthy diet led to pre-diabetes and weight gain in mice, and the ones with the ApoE4 gene developed more plaques in their brains, the protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

“Part of what the results are saying is that risk doesn’t affect everybody the same, and that’s true for most risk factors … Your genes have a big role in what happens to you, but so does your environment and your modifiable lifestyle factors. How much you exercise becomes important, and what you eat becomes important. That means there are probably components directly in the diet, and one of those are fatty acids, like palmitic acid, that trigger inflammation because they can go in and directly affect glia. But that may be just one inflammation-related component of Alzheimer’s disease.” – Christian Pike, the study’s leading author

Further research is required to confirm the link between obesity and Alzheimer’s disease, and also why more women are affected than men.

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