.Some Fats Fend Off Alzheimer's
Article; by Lindsey Tanner; Associated Press
Some dietary fats might help prevent Alzheimer's disease, others may increase the risk and contrary to some reports, antioxidents vitamins may have no effect on the mind-robbing ailment, two studies suggest.
The study on fats adds to growing evidence that the same type of diet that protects the heart may benefit the brain.
Data are more mixed on effects on Alzeimer's of antioxidents such as vitamins C and E and beta-carotene, although recent studies have suggested a potential benefit, and scientists say a link makes biological sense.
The discrepancy may be explained by different study characteristics, say authors of the latest antioxidant research, from Columbia University. Their study, which found no effect from consuming antioxidents, involved older people who might have been less susceptible to vitamins' purported benefits, and subjects were followed for a shorter period.
Longer-lasting earlier research may "have allowed for a better opportunity to fine an association," said Columbia's Dr. Jose Luchsinger, the lead author.
It's possible that there truly is no association, although more research is needed to determine that, he said.
His study and the fats research are in February's Archives of Neurology. The fats study, led by researcher Martha Clare Morris at Chicago's Rush-Presbyterian-St.Luke's Medical Center, involved 815 Chicago risidents ages 65 and older who were asked about their eating habits.
Followup tests nearly four years later found that 131 participants had developed Alzheimer's.
People who reported consuming relatively large quantities of saturated fats, found in many animal-based products including meat and butter, faced double the risk of having Alzeimer's
compared with people who ate very small amounts. That risk was found for people who ate on average 25 grams of saturated fats daily; one tablespoon of butter has about 7 grams. Lower but still elevated risks were linked with smaller amounts of saturated fat.
Those who consumed large quantities of polyunsaturated fats (14 grams daily), found in vetgetables and nuts, faced a 70 percent reduction in Alzheimer's risk, compared to those who are small amounts of these fats.
The findings are "really consistent with other data that has been developing that suggests anything that raises your risk of vascular disease is associated with more Alzheimer's disease," said William Thies, vice president of medical and scientific affairs for the Alzheimers's Association
Eating unhealthy fats promotes the buildup of "bad" cholestrol, which can narrow arteries. Researchers think it may also promote the formation of protein deposits called beta amyloid in the brain...a hallmark of Alzeimar's
The study of antioxidents involved 980 Medicare patients in New Youk, averaging age 75, who were asked about their food intake during the first year of the four year study.
Alzheimer's was diagnosed during the study in 242 people.
Participants reported eating varying amounts of foods rich in antioxidants, such as oranges, corn-oil margarine and carrots. Some also took suppliments, but no amount of antioxdants was associated with a decreased risk of Alzeimer's
Antioxidants can block the effects of oxygen molecules called free radical, which can damage cells and promote the accumulation of beta amyloid, the authors said.