Health Briefs - Alzheimer’s

January 24, 2009

Vitamin may guard against Alzheimer’s and help boost memory. Recent study has yielded some encouraging results for the possible prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and for improving memory function in healthy people.

Vitamin may guard against Alzheimer’s and help boost memory

A recent study has yielded some encouraging results for the possible prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and for improving memory function in healthy people.

The U.S. study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, reported that vitamin B3 supplements given to laboratory mice improved memory function and reduced levels of a protein linked to damage from Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin B3 (scientific name nicotinamide) is found in foods including meat, fish and potatoes, and is also sold in supplement form. Research has shown vitamin B3 helps reduce inflammation and relieves some diabetes-related complications.

During the study, researchers gave drinking water supplemented with vitamin B3 to mice that were bred to develop Alzheimer's disease. The mice were tested to determine the levels of certain chemicals associated with Alzheimer’s, and the level of the phosphorylated tau protein was found to be significantly lower.

A series of memory tests conducted on healthy mice as well as the Alzheimer’s mice showed improved memory function in both groups.

A number of experts in Alzheimer’s disease are encouraged by the results, though they caution that human clinical trials are still ongoing, and that people should not begin taking vitamin B3 supplements or make changes to their diet before results of the human research are known.

Study finds brain changes in chronic pain sufferers

A new study shows chronic pain leads to brain changes that have a lasting effect on patients. The results, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, may explain why chronic pain sufferers are more likely to have mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Researchers at Northwestern University in the U.S. compared brain activity in two groups of adults -- one group was healthy, while the other was comprised of chronic back pain sufferers. The groups were given the simple task of following a bar as it moved across a computer screen; during the test, images of brain activity were taken using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Earlier studies have shown that the brain of a healthy person shifts to a resting state (termed default mode); simple tasks like following the moving bar can be performed without disturbing the resting state.

Researchers comparing the brain activity images of the two groups found that those in the chronic pain group showed constant activity in the front region of the brain cortex, meaning they didn’t experience the normal healthy resting state found in the non-pain group.

Exercise reduces stroke severity and impairment, study reports

Regular exercise appears to reduce stroke severity and long-term post-stroke impairment. That’s the finding of a recent study conducted in Denmark and published in the journal Neurology.

During the study, researchers analyzed the pre-stroke exercise habits of nearly 300 adults, all of whom had suffered their first ischemic stroke.

Strokes suffered by the most physically active adults were more than twice as likely to be mild, and only half as likely to cause impairment compared with the least physically active stroke patients.
Stroke is one of the world’s leading killers. While it has long been known that good health habits such as regular exercise can reduce an individual’s stroke risk, the new study appears to show that exercise helps reduce the stroke’s severity and potentially-debilitating physical impairment following a stroke.

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