Alzheimer's disease -- the condition that robs those afflicted of their memory and eventually their life -- is one of the most feared diseases by the baby boomer generation. In 1997, according to the American Journal of Public Health, approximately 2.32 million Americans had the disease with that number expected to quadruple before 2050.
Although Alzheimer's is not strictly a disease of senior years, the older you become, the more likely you are to develop it. The oldest members of the baby boom generation began turning 65 years old this year; the freshmen members of the generation will turn 65 by 2030.
But not all news about this debilitating illness is so foreboding. A pilot study whose results were published in the Archives of Neurology on Sept. 12 show that the use of insulin as a intranasal spray holds some promise in treating the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. The study, funded by the National Institute on Aging and the Department of Veterans Affairs, resulted in less cognitive decline among the two groups who used the intranasal insulin versus the group that did not.
This small study, involving 104 participants with a four-month duration was conducted to determine whether its results warranted a larger, longer study, which the study authors concluded is warranted. Insulin is a metabolic hormone most known for its role in controlling blood glucose (sugar) levels.
The results of another study, published today in Neurology, suggest high blood cholesterol levels, or dyslipidemia, increase the risk of the formation of protein deposits in the brain often associated with Alzheimer's disease. But as study authors point out, not everyone who develops protein plaques within the brain develops Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Kensuke Sasaki, one of the study authors, explained in HealthNews that these findings do not in and of themselves mean that high cholesterol levels are a risk factor for developing Alzheimer's disease. What the findings do suggest, Sasaki explains, is yet another reason for people to monitor their diets and cholesterol levels and keep those levels in check.
As science moves forward with its research, we may come to understand even more ways to protect ourselves from Alzheimer's disease. Maintaining cholesterol levels within therapeutic levels may protect some people from developing Alzheimer's disease in later life; there is no way of knowing if or how many. But maintaining good cholesterol levels through diet and exercise also decreases your risk of cardiovascular and other chronic conditions.
Smack dab in the middle of the baby boomer generation , L.L. Woodard is a proud resident of "The Red Man" state. With what he hopes is an everyman's view of life's concerns both in his state and throughout the nation, Woodard presents facts and opinions based on common-sense solutions.
- Alzheimer's disease