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Sunday, April 10, 2011

7 simple steps to prevent Alzheimer's

One out of every 10 people over the age of 65 has Alzheimer's disease (AD). And an estimated 14 million Americans will develop it by the middle of the next century unless a cure is found. If you want to avoid becoming an Alzheimer's statistic, you need to start on the road to prevention now.

Take an aspirin and hang onto your memories. Some doctors think inflamed brain tissue might contribute to Alzheimer's. That would mean NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) like aspirin or ibuprofen might help prevent or treat the condition by reducing swelling.

Research indicates this could he true. One study of 50 elderly twins found that the twin who used NSAIDs was less likely to get Alzheimer's, or developed it later in life, than the twin who didn't use NSAIDs.

These promising and inexpensive remedies may be just what you need to stem the tide of Alzheimer's disease. However, taking too many anti-inflammatory drugs may cause side effects, mainly stomach irritation or bleeding, so talk to your doctor before starting any treatment.

Slow down AD the "E-Z" way. A simple vitamin may help you buy some time before Alzheimer's steals your health. This miracle vitamin, which a recent study found can slow the progression of AD, is the highly touted antioxidant, vitamin E.

Researchers divided people with Alzheimer's into four groups. They gave one group 2,000 IU of vitamin E daily. Another group took selegiline, a drug used to treat Parkinson's disease. The other groups got either a combination of vitamin E and selegiline or a placebo.

The people who took either the vitamin E or the selegiline were able to care for themselves longer, and delayed entering a nursing home by about seven months, compared to the people who got the placebo.

A 2,000-IU dose is much larger than that found in supplements and could cause bleeding problems, so talk to your doctor before taking vitamin E. A simple multivitamin that includes this powerful antioxidant may be all you need to help you maintain your independence longer.

Discover a natural way to "leaf" AD behind. An herb that supposedly improves your memory should surely help combat a disease that slowly drains your memories out of you, shouldn't it ?

According to new research, it does. A study found that an extract made from the nuts, leaves, and branches of the ginkgo biloba plant may slow down the course of Alzheimer's disease for some people. In the study, a substantial number of people with AD who took the extract delayed the progression of the disease by six months to one year.

This effect is about the same as two prescription drugs approved by the FDA for treating Alzheimer's (Aricept and Cognex) and produced no significant side effects.

Stop smoking and snuff out Alzheimer's. You know smoking is had for your lungs, but what does it do to your brain ? Earlier studies came to the surprising conclusion that smoking may protect you against Alzheimer's. These reports were based on the fact that more Alzheimer's victims are non-smokers.

But a recent study found that smoking actually increases your chances of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. More than 6,000 people ages 55 and over were followed for two years. Almost 150 people developed Alzheimer's or other dementia during that period. According to researchers, smoking doubled the risk of the disease.

Why the difference in results ? It may be that non-smokers live longer and, therefore, have more time to develop the disease. Smoking is the number one cause of premature death in developed countries like the United States. Since Alzheimer's strikes mostly older people, smokers may not be affected simply because they die from lung cancer or other causes before Alzheimer's can develop.

Look to hormones for help. Women are twice as likely to get Alzheimer's disease as men. However, a large study conducted by the National Institute on Aging found that postmenopausal women who used estrogen were 54 percent less likely to get Alzheimer's than women who had never taken estrogen.
Another study found that estrogen may also help ease the symptoms of AD. Women who already had the disease were treated with estrogen. Within a week, these women showed signs of improvement, while women who didn't get estrogen did not.

Learn something new every day. Education may be the key to success, but it also may be the key to sidestepping Alzheimer's. Recent studies have found that the more education you have, the lower your risk of AD.

Education may protect your brain indirectly by making you more likely to eat better, exercise, and obtain good medical care. However, the most important thing it does is to increase connections between your brain cells. Alzheimer's disease destroys the lines of communication, called synapses, between your brain cells. Every time you learn something new, you build new connections, thus strengthening your memory and fighting off AD.

To keep Alzheimer's at hay, try to learn something new every day. A crossword puzzle, word game, picture puzzle, or interesting new book will help keep those synapses snapping.

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