Blog | Thursday, July 31, 2008

Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's, and more Alzheimer's


The International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease is happening this week in Chicago, and not surprisingly, there's a lot of news coming out of it about Alzheimer's. A quick run-down of the findings:
  • Several lifestyle factors have been found to relate to the development of dementia. Living alone in middle age increases your risk, but ruminating about things (like your single status, perhaps?) decreases the risk. Metabolic syndrome (which the Alzheimer's Association press office apparently considers a lifestyle factor) also increases risk.
  • Studies at the conference indicated some promising new avenues for early diagnosis of the disease, including tests of blood, spinal fluid, brain enzymes and PET scans.
  • Of course, early diagnosis doesn't help much without a treatment. Researchers reported a variety of successful drug trials, almost all in Phase II.
  • Another study found that insulin and diabetes drugs might treat/prevent Alzheimer's. Although diabetes has been shown to increase risk for the disease, patients who were on both drugs and insulin had fewer brain lesions than nondiabetics.
  • And, in studies almost worthy of Medical News of the Obvious, researchers found that communicating with Alzheimer's patients in babytalk makes them angry and that exercise is good for you.