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Findings reported in February Archives of Neurology provide new insights on Alzheimer’s disease

The February 2003 issue of the Archives of Neurology, one of the Journal of the American Medical Association/Archives publications, features a series of research findings providing new insights on possible risk and protective factors regarding Alzheimer’s disease (AD). These important reports include investigations of dietary fats, antioxidants, and estrogen, as well as possible genetic factors.

The reports are based on research supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), which leads the Federal Government’s effort to conduct and support research on AD and on aging generally. The NIA is part of the National Institutes of Health at the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The research reported in the February 2003 Archives of Neurology includes:

Dietary Fats and the Risk of Incident Alzheimer’s Disease – Lead author, Dr. Martha Clare Morris, Rush Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center, Chicago, and colleagues. Research suggests that high intake of unsaturated, unhydrogenated fats may be protective against AD, while consuming saturated or trans-unsaturated fats may increase risk.

Antioxidant Vitamin Intake and Risk of Alzheimer Disease – Lead author, Dr. Jose A. Luchsinger, Columbia University, New York, and colleagues. Research suggests that neither dietary, supplemental, nor total intake of carotenes and vitamins C and E was associated with a decreased risk of AD.

Estrogen Levels Do Not Correlate With Improvement in Cognition – Lead author, Dr. Leon J. Thal, University of California at San Diego, and colleagues. Report of treatment trial of Premarin in postmenopausal women with hysterectomy finds no association between elevated estradiol and estrone levels and cognitive functioning after 2 months or 12 months of treatment.

Higher Estrogen Levels Are Not Associated with Larger Hippocampi and Better Memory Performance – Lead author Tom den Heijer, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and colleagues, including Dr. Lenore Launer of the NIA -- Authors conclude that their data, from the large population Rotterdam Study, does not support the hypothesis that higher levels of endogenous estradiol in older women and men are associated with larger hippocampal volume and better memory performance.

Incidence of Alzheimer Disease in a Biracial Urban Community – Lead author, Dr. Denis Evans, Rush Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center, Chicago, IL, and colleagues. Researchers report that Apolipoprotein E å4 allele, a specific genetic factor, led to increased risk of AD in whites but not blacks.

Functional Transitions and Active Life Expectancy Associated With Alzheimer Disease – Lead author, Dr. Hiroko H. Dodge, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, and colleagues. This study presents active life expectancy as a clinically useful new way to measure the effects of AD. The authors find that AD greatly shortened total life expectancy similarly in men and women, who also spent more years with greater disability.


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