A new study has found that the pounds you have during your midlife years may determine how quickly you’ll develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers from several health organizations say that the weigh you have when you are 50 years old may play a role in the onset of the neurodegenerative disease. During their tests, the subjects who had normal cognitive abilities but were overweight during their midlife years, and later in life developed Alzheimer’s, experienced an accelerated onset of the neurodegenerative disease.
To be exact, the research team informed that each extra unit of body mass index (BDI) that a person has at age 50, speeds up the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by six and a half (6.5) months. It is well known that the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s start to show up around this age.
The National Institute on Aging informs that there are currently over 5 million Americans who are living with the neurodegenerative disease. But despite this alarming fact, health researchers have yet to identify the elements that cause Alzheimer’s disease to develop.
One of the working theories is that one or more of the following factors may be triggering it: age, family history and family genetics. And a recent study from a few weeks ago has revealed that the neurodegenerative disease may also be determined by a set of eight (8) modifiable risk factors such as heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and smoking status, to name a few.
As of right now there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but health experts hope that the more researchers investigate the condition, the more the medical community will be able to improve treatments that can help patients manage it.
Dr. Madhav Thambisetty, lead author on the study and Chief and Clinical Investigator from the Unit of Clinical and Translational Neuroscience from the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health, gave a statement to CBS News stressing the importance of future research.
He said that “Understanding how risk factors in midlife may accelerate the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in later life is important in our efforts to develop interventions and treatments that may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s”.
He went on to add that even though field experts are well aware of the fact that people who are overweight or obese during their midlife years are more vulnerable to developing Alzheimer’s disease, they still don’t have an understanding of “how it may affect the age when the disease first begins”.
For their study, Dr. Thambisetty and his colleagues looked at data gathered from 1.394 adults who had normal cognitive abilities. Each of them went for neuropsychological assessments about once every two (2) years for a period of about 14 years, and 142 of them developed Alzheimer’s disease by the end of the study.
After looking at their test results, the research team concluded that the subjects who had a higher body mass index when they were 50, experienced a quicker onset of Alzheimer’s.
The findings back up earlier research and have caused Dr. Heather Snyder, Medical and Scientific Operations Director from the Alzheimer’s Association, among other field experts, to believe that the biological changes that Alzheimer’s patients undergo are just as important as the mental changes, and that they need to be thoroughly investigated and fully understood in order to help people with the neurodegenerative disease.
The study was published earlier this week, in the medical journal Molecular Psychiatry.