Jul
01
2007

Estrogen In Early Menopause Saves Lives

In the June 21, 2007 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine a randomized study of  8.7 year duration the question was examined whether postmenopausal women following hysterectomy would have a higher risk with estrogen replacement therapy than controls who did not take estrogen therapy. The lead author was Dr. JoAnn E. Manson of Harvard Medical School and the method chosen to examine the heart disease risk was a CT of the heart to measure calcium  in plaque of coronary arteries.

Previous research had shown a good correlation of calcification of coronary arteries with the degree of hardening of coronary arteries as shown in this image.

Various dosages of estrogen were used and overall there was a reduction of calcium scores in all of the groups ranging from 22% to 31% when the calcium scores of the estrogen treated patients were compared to the non treated controls. This translated into 36% to 64% less heart attack rates when the treated groups were compared to the controls not treated with estrogen.

The discussion regarding estrogen replacement therapy following menopause is not finished, but women can be reassured that the cardiovascular risk appears to not be as straight forward as research seemed to suggest in the recent past. There likely was a bias in these retrospective studies and the present prospective study is much stronger having been done over 8.7 years following randomization. As this study was done on patients who had previous hysterectomies, there is no concern about uterine cancer. Breast cancer risk was not examined in this study.

Estrogen In Early Menopause Saves Lives

Estrogen In Early Menopause Saves Lives

The authors concluded that low dose estrogen replacement with 0.625mg of conjugated estrogen (Premarine) appears to be safe and has the most beneficial effect on coronary artery health when taken between the ages of 50 and 59. However, the authors also cautioned that estrogen would have multiple effects and may have negative effects on the cardiovascular system in some other way.

Reference: N Engl. J Med. 2007;356:2591-2602

Comment on Nov. 18, 2012:  The real problem of this study is that the authors took the wrong “hormone replacement”, namely Premarine, which is a non-bioidentical estrogen concoction from horses, which translates into an ill fitting key. The human body’s estrogen receptors do not fit this “key”. The proper experimental set-up would have been to use bio-identical estrogen hormones, which are usually given as a cream and would be the perfect key for the human estrogen receptors. This would have to be balanced with bio-identical progesterone to achieve a balance the way it is in a younger woman. We know from other studies that this prolongs life by preventing coronary artery disease, prevents Alzheimer’s disease, prevents strokes and does not cause uterine cancer or breast cancer. Women on bio-identical hormone replacement also retain their normal sex drive.

See this chapter on menopause in the Net Health Book.

Last edited May 9, 2013

Jul
01
2007

Regular Exercise Will Delay Onset Of Alzheimer’s Or Dementia

Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia have become a disease that is dreaded by people approaching middle age. As the population ages it has made its way into the foreground not only for the ageing group but also for younger family members who will face difficult tasks as caregivers to their loved ones.

Research is dealing with a possibility of halting the disease progression, and there are encouraging signs, that more effective treatment will be available, as long as the condition is diagnosed and treated in its early stages.

It is also logical to look at preventative measures. Healthy lifestyle choices have been cited, and a closer look has been taken by Dr. Eric Larson, executive director of the Center for Health Studies of the Group Health Cooperative, Seattle. He reports that it does at this point not seem probable that Alzheimer’s dementia can always be prevented from happening, but the onset can be delayed. Four observational studies have shown with consistency, a 30% to 40% reduction in the incidence of Alzheimer’s when people get regular exercise.

In his own study Dr. Larson looked at 2581 individuals age 65 and over. They were tested for cognitive function and interviewed about their exercise habits every two years. It was found that those who followed an exercise regime 3 or four times per week had a 40 % reduction in the risk of developing dementia compared to those who exercised less than 3 times per week.

Regular Exercise Will Delay Onset Of Alzheimer’s Or Dementia

Regular Exercise Will Delay Onset Of Alzheimer’s Or Dementia

Exercise could consist of at least 15 minutes of hiking, aerobics, stretching, calisthenics, water aerobics, swimming, or weight training. It was also of interest to note that people with the lowest physical performance benefited most from the exercise. For people in the higher age bracket prevention of dementia (and other ills) does not have to be costly. A good pair of walking or running shoes (used more than 3 times per week) will pay a healthy dividend.

More information on prevention of Alzheimer’s and dementia: http://www.askdrray.com/dementia-prevented-with-diet-and-exercise/

Reference regarding the work of Dr. Larson: http://www.news-medical.net/news/2006/05/23/18087.aspx

Last edited December 18, 2014

Mar
01
2006

Dementia Prevented With Diet And Exercise

According to an Australian review a low-fat diet along with physical and mental activity is the best way to avoid dementia late in life.
The Australian team looked at numerous studies and concluded that many drugs and supplements promoted as treatments do not work. They did find that maintaining healthy blood pressure levels and an ideal body weight, staying physically and mentally active and consuming a low-fat diet reduces the risk of developing dementia. Dr. Michael Woodward, lead researcher of the report “Dementia: Can It Be Prevented?” states a very simple fact: any advice that is good for the heart is also good for the brain. A number of dietary supplements and medications have been suggested as being useful in the prevention of dementia, but none of them have been conclusive. One small study from Portugal suggested that even coffee could prevent dementia. It made headlines in the media, especially in the American press. However this was a small study involving only 54 people in Portugal. Another study a few years ago claimed that hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women reduced the risk of dementia. Again, this study got a lot of coverage. The study had a strong selection bias: these women were generally more health conscious, in better physical health and from a more socioeconomically privileged background.

The results of this review are further confirmed by Australian and American researchers led by Dr. Ralph Martins of the Center for Aging and Alzheimer’s disease in Joondalup, Australia and Dr. Samuel Gandy of the Farber Institute of Neurosciences in Philadelphia. They found that overweight and obese people are having a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than normal weight individuals. Increased body mass index and higher levels of plasma amyloid-beta, which is a key substance in the development of Alzheimer’s, go hand in hand.

Dementia Prevented With Diet And Exercise

Dementia Prevented With Diet And Exercise

Experts in the area of dementia caution that we cannot count on drugs and supplements, instead prevention is the key with dementia, which comes in the form of a healthy lifestyle.

More info about:

1. Research that has revealed a number of causes for Alzheimer’s disease: http://nethealthbook.com/neurology-neurological-disease/alzheimers-dementia-and-delirium/alzheimers-research/

2. Fitness:  http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/fitness/

The Medical Post, January 24,2006,page 39.

3. Blog showing that exercise delays onset of Alzheimer’s: http://www.askdrray.com/regular-exercise-will-delay-onset-of-alzheimers-or-dementia/

Last edited October 30, 2014

Dec
01
2004

Alzheimers Now Detected Early

A combined American and Swedish Research team has described the compound “Pittsburgh compound-C” (for short PIB), that glues itself onto amyloid plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’ patients. This gluey substance is responsible for the symptoms of dementia that plague the patients. These plaques can be detected by positron emission tomography, a test that is known as PET scan.
This may sound very high tech, but the significance of this is great: it allows researchers to look how Alzheimers begins, shows the progression and also demonstrates how effective drugs are at slowing down or reversing the disease. Dr. Klunk and his colleagues who share the research, note that it is possible to identify patients at high risk of early onset as much as ten years before symptoms of the disease show up. This is now even more critical as several new treatments for Alzheimers are being tested. Also as future medicines become available that work by preventing amyloid deposition, these early testing methods will be of utmost importance.

Reference: National Review Of Medicine, November 15,2004, page 15

Alzheimers Now Detected Early

Alzheimers Now Detected Early

See also the following links regarding Alzheimers:

1. Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s: http://nethealthbook.com/neurology-neurological-disease/alzheimers-dementia-and-delirium/alzheimers-disease-diagnosis/

2. Link About the Pittsburgh compound and PET scanning

Last edited October 27, 2014

Sep
01
2004

Green Vegetables Preserve Brain Function

Popeye needed spinach for a bulging biceps, but new research points to more exciting possibilities. The regular intake of green leaf vegetables and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage) is associated with a preservation of cognitive function. In the Nurses’ Health Study starting in 1984 women were asked to fill out food-frequency questionnaires. They were asked about their usual intake of a specified portion of food items, including 15 fruits and 28 vegetables. At a later date, between 1995 and 2001, researchers decided to ask the oldest participants (70 years and older) to participate in a cognitive function study. The tests were repeated 2 years later.

The main finding of the study is that women with the highest intake of green, leafy vegetables had the least decline in their cognitive function, when compared to those with the lowest intake. The vegetable lovers, who consumed five serving of cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower had less decline in their cognitive function. On the other hand the highest decline showed up in the group that averaged only 2 servings per week. These findings were significant enough to be presented at the ninth International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease by Dr. Jae Hee Chang, a researcher at the Channing Laboratory of Harvard Medical School. The effect may seem modest, but nutritional habits can obviously delay or prevent the onset of dementia.

Green Vegetables Preserve Brain Function

Green Vegetables Preserve Brain Function

This effect seems to be independent from the beneficial effect of bioflavonoids that vegetables also contain.

Other interesting observations about Alzheimer’s research: http://nethealthbook.com/neurology-neurological-disease/alzheimers-dementia-and-delirium/alzheimers-research/

Reference: The Medical Post, August 17, 2004, page 8

Last edited October 26, 2014

Mar
01
2004

Vitamins C And E – A Weapon Against Alzheimers

A study in a recent edition of the Archives of Neurology reports about 4740 patients from Cache County, Utah, who were 65 years or older and were followed over 5 years. At the start it was found that those who had taken vitamin C and E on a regular basis as separate supplements had a 78% lesser risk of developing Alzheimers (correct medical term: “Alzheimer’s disease”).

5 years later out of 3227 survivors who were at risk 104 more people had developed Alzheimers, but 64% of those who combined vitamin C and E as a supplement did not develop Alzheimers. Dr. Peter Zandi from the Department of Mental Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, The Johns Hopkins University/ Baltimore, Md was the lead author of this study. He stated that this was only an observational study, but that the data was convincing enough to warrant a full-scale controlled trial to examine the value of anti-oxidant agents (such as vitamin C and E) as a preventative against Alzheimers. There were a number of built-in controls such as vitamin C alone, vitamin E alone and multiple vitamins (including vitamin C and E in smaller dosages) that were all ineffective in preventing Alzheimers. The daily dosages that were necessary for the protective effect were vitamin C 500mg to 1000 mg or more per day as well as 400 IU to 1000 IU of vitamin E per day. The U.S. recommended daily allowance was insufficient for the protective effect. These dosages typically are in the order of 22 IU of vit. E and 75 to 90 mg of vit. C. Vitamin B complex alone was also ineffective in protecting against Alzheimers.

Vitamins C And E - A Weapon Against Alzheimers

Vitamins C And E – A Weapon Against Alzheimers

Comments: There are many unanswered questions about Alzheimers, but this paper gives valuable hints in terms of the protective effect of two vitamins (vitamin C and E taken as separate supplements daily). There are other factors such as genetic ones and perhaps a dysregulation of the cholesterol brain metabolism that lead to the production of a glue-like substance, called “beta-amyloid” ,that causes memory loss in Alzheimers patients. Testosterone has recently also been noticed to be important in the prevention of Alzheimers disease. In addition to these vitamin supplements a low glycemic, low fat diet would likely be very beneficial together with a regular exercise program and calorie restriction to prevent Alzheimers disease in many patients (prevention of the metabolic disease).

More info on Alzheimer’s disease: http://nethealthbook.com/neurology-neurological-disease/alzheimers-dementia-and-delirium/

Arch Neurol – 01-JAN-2004; 61(1): 82-8

Last edited October 26, 2014

Feb
01
2004

Low Testosterone Linked To Alzheimers

A recent publication in the medical journal Neurology by Dr. Susan Resnick revealed a surprise link between a lack of testosterone and Alzheimer’s disease.

574 men from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging who had been followed for about 19 years were analyzed with respect to hormonal factors and their neurological status was also observed. Of these men who ranged in age from 32 to 87 years initially 54 were diagnosed with Alzheimers disease.

When the researchers looked at the hormone status of the men whose mental functioning stayed stable versus those who developed Alzheimers, it was clear that the height of the free testosterone level in the blood (expressed by dividing testosterone by the sex hormone-binding globulin) was a significant predictor for not getting Alzheimers. In other words, if men could maintain a stable level of free testosterone with aging they were significantly protected from Alzheimers disease. The effect was so marked that the blood test could predict 10-years in advance whether a man would develop Alzheimers in future or not. There was a 26% reduction in the risk of Alzheimers with each 10-unit increase in free testosterone.

The same edition of Neurology contains a second report by Dr. Gian Benedetto Melis and coworkers (University of Cagliari, Italy) where around 100 patients (males and females) with Alzheimers were compared with a similar number of patients without Alzheimers. All of their body mass index was in the normal range (20 to 22). These researchers found that the Alzheimers group (both male and female) had an extremely high sex hormone-binding globulin.

Low Testosterone Linked To Alzheimers

Low Testosterone Linked To Alzheimers

The testicles in males and the adrenal glands in males and females can produce testosterone. Dr. Resnick remarked that free testosterone can enter the brain tissue (via the blood brain barrier) easily and act directly on the brain or can be converted to estrogen. Estrogen has been shown in other studies to have a protective effect against Alzheimers. Dr. Resnick cautioned that another study where males with low testosterone levels are getting testosterone supplementation has to be done first before a male should be advised to get treated with testosterone for prevention of Alzheimers disease.

This article is based on a publication by Dr. Resnick et al. in Neurology 2004;62:188-193,301-303.

Comments: It is interesting to note that the “old fashioned” remedies such as weight loss, exercise (particularly anaerobic exercises such as weight training) and a low glycemic diet will naturally increase testosterone levels and vitality in both sexes. A comprehensive program such as the zone diet (by Dr. Barry Sears) or a similar such low glycemic program when combined with exercise will automatically make you lose weight down to a normal body mass index and allow you to maintain it without hunger pangs. It will also normalize hormones in most people on its own as previously elevated insulin levels normalize and the sex hormone-binding globulin will normalize as well. This will make the necessary hormones available to you whether female or male, will prevent osteoporosis (from exercise) and provide enough hormones before and after menopause or andropause to most people. Only a minority of patients will need to get blood tests from their doctors depending on symptoms and those need to seek medical advice to see whether they might benefit from bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.

Further information can be found here: bioidentical hormone replacement.

Last edited October 26, 2014

Feb
01
2003

CYP46 Gene Marker Linked With Alzheimers Disease

Dr. Andreas Papassotiropoulos and his group from the University of Zurich in Switzerland have published an interesting paper in the January issue of archives of Neurology (Arch Neurol 2003;60:29-35). These researchers found when they compared a certain genetic area of 201 patients with Alzheimer’s disease with that of 248 control subjects, that there were important differences in the socalled CYP46 genotype.

A modified form of this genetic region (CYP46*TT genotype) was much more common in the late onset Alzheimers patients than in normal controls. When this test was found to be positive in a patient, this was associated with a 2.16-fold risk of Alzheimers. However, if another known genetic Alzheimers marker (apolipoprotein E epsilon-4) was present also at the same time, the risk of that person having Alzheimers was 9.6-fold when compared to normal controls. With another group of patients who had died from Alzheimers disease, autopsies were done and the brain tissues and cerebrospinal fluids was examined. It was found that the brain tissues and cerebrospinal fluids were loaded with beta-amyloid, which is the glue-like substance typical for Alzheimers.

The Swiss authors concluded from their study that CYP46 is a novel susceptibility gene, which allows to test for Alzheimer’s disease. From other studies it was known that the CYP46 gene encodes the cholesterol 24-hydroxylase, an enzyme that breaks down cholesterol in the brain.

CYP46 Gene Marker Linked With Alzheimers Disease

CYP46 Gene Marker Linked With Alzheimers Disease

It was also known that the beta-amyloid is a by-product of this changed cholesterol metabolism in brains of Alzheimers patients. There are now new possibilities of prevention, if perhaps changes in diet would prevent the accumulation of cholesterol in the brain. Also, medications could be developed that help reducing the cholesterol load of Alzheimers brains to prevent the devastating memory loss.

Related link regarding Alzheimers and dementias: http://www.nethealthbook.com/articles/neurologicaldiseases_alzheimersandothers.php

Last edited December 10, 2012