A clearer picture of what causes Alzheimer’s disease is emerging after the largest ever analysis of patients’ DNA, reports the BBC today.
“A massive international collaboration has now doubled the number of genes linked to the dementia to 21. The findings, published in the journal Nature Genetics, indicate a strong role for the immune system.
“Alzheimer’s Research UK said the findings could “significantly enhance” understanding of the disease. The number of people developing Alzheimer’s is growing around the world as people live longer. However, major questions around what causes the dementia, how brain cells die, how to treat it or even diagnose it remain unanswered.
“It is really difficult to treat a disease when you do not understand what causes it,” one of the lead researchers, Prof Julie Williams from Cardiff University, said. The genetic code, the instructions for building and running the body, was scoured for clues. A group – involving nearly three quarters of the world’s Alzheimer’s geneticists from 145 academic institutions – looked at the DNA of 17,000 patients and 37,000 healthy people. They found versions of 21 genes, or sets of instructions, which made it more likely that a person would develop Alzheimer’s disease. They do not guarantee Alzheimer’s will develop, but they do make the disease more likely. By looking at the genes’ function in the body, it allows researchers to figure out the processes going wrong in Alzheimer’s disease. Prof Williams, the head of neurodegeneration at Cardiff University, told the BBC: “We’ve doubled the number of genes discovered and a very strong pattern is emerging.”There is something in the immune response which is causing Alzheimer’s disease and we need to look at that.” Continue reading “Largest Alzheimer’s DNA study results”
In a time of medical breakthroughs, where cures are created for many conditions that were once terminal, it’s easy to forget that some conditions are still incurable and almost impossible to prevent or slow down, reports the Irish Times.
“Longer life expectancy means that by 2041 there will be 1.4 million people in Ireland aged 65 and over, making up 22 per cent of the population.
“Dementia and old age go hand in hand so the number diagnosed with dementia is expected to increase three-fold to more than 120,000 in the next 30 years. Currently, there are nearly 42,000 people living with dementia in Ireland.
“Alzheimer’s disease, a common form of dementia, causes memory loss and there is very little medically that can be done. Certain drugs may slow down the progression of the condition, but they are not a cure. The World Alzheimer Report 2012 looked at the stigma attached to dementia and Alzheimer’s. Families and friends often don’t know how to deal with it, which creates feelings of isolation and exclusion for people with dementia. Continue reading “Alzhheimer’s, dementia, and stigma”
The nation’s largest cardiovascular health organization has a new message for Americans: Owning a dog may protect you from heart disease.
The unusual message was contained in a scientific statement published on Thursday by the American Heart Association, which convened a panel of experts to review years of data on the cardiovascular benefits of owning a pet, reports the New York times: “The group concluded that owning a dog, in particular, was “probably associated” with a reduced risk of heart disease.
“People who own dogs certainly have more reason to get outside and take walks, and studies show that most owners form such close bonds with their pets that being in their presence blunts the owners’ reactions to stress and lowers their heart rate, said Dr. Glenn N. Levine, the head of the committee that wrote the statement.
“But most of the evidence is observational, which makes it impossible to rule out the prospect that people who are healthier and more active in the first place are simply more likely to bring a dog or cat into their home. Continue reading “The dog keeps you healthy”
If alcoholism is a disease, as most professionals in the treatment industry assert – then shouldn’t those who get in trouble with the law for alcohol-related reasons be treated as “ill” rather than “criminal.”?
LifeHealth reports that “A police officer fired for driving drunk in an unmarked police car while off-duty has filed a $6 million lawsuit against the city of Gresham, the police chief and others, alleging his rights were violated under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).imgres-1
“The lawsuit filed in Portland alleged the officer, Jason Servo, was suffering from alcoholism, a recognized disability under the act, and shouldn’t have been dismissed.The suit also alleged Servo was denied due process, and the police union failed to represent him adequately. Continue reading “Alcoholism as disability”
Parents worry a lot about the safety of children crossing the street. It looks like they should be worried about Grandpa, too.
Older people are at higher risk of being killed by a car while walking, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports NPR.
“Going up against a 2,000-pound moving metal object is never a good idea. Pedestrians account for 13 percent of all motor-vehicle traffic deaths, even though walking accounts for 10.5 percent of trips.The CDC data crunchers looked at pedestrian deaths from 2001 to 2010, to get a grasp of differences in sex, age and ethnicity. Differences there are.
“The death rates were lowest for children under age 15. Maybe all that parental nagging about “stop, look and listen” is working?The risk of pedestrian death increases slowly through life and peaks with people over age 75, who are more than twice as likely to be killed by a car than are people overall. The results were published in the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. This study didn’t look at why, but Laurie Beck, an epidemiologist at CDC who led the study, says that a number of factors, including the fact that older people take more time to cross the street, are responsible. Continue reading “Walking while old: The risks”
Who is more exhausted: men or women?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the answer, though it’s one that you probably could have arrived at without a second’s thought, reports NPR.
“More women than men said they felt very tired or exhausted most days or every day, when government surveyors asked them. Overall, about 15 percent of women said they were worn out compared with 10 percent of the men.
“Now, it gets even more interesting, or maybe it’s just obvious, when you break down the responses by age.
“The biggest difference in tiredness by sex is in the 18-44 age group. Women in the group were about twice as likely as men to feel wiped out: 16 percent versus 9 percent.
“Now what in the world could be going on? Hmm. Continue reading “The fatigue gender gap”
Some time back, researchers writing in The New England Journal of Medicine decided to ask older Americans about their sex life and discovered something interesting: very often, they have one.
When Robin G. Sawyer, an associate professor in the University of Maryland School of Public Health, shares this information with his students, some seem horrified, reports today’s New York Times
“Maybe they are troubled by the thought of “wrinklies,” as a character in the Christopher Buckley novel “Boomsday” calls them, being intimate. But maybe what gets them is just how often many baby boomers boom — at least two or three times a month, the study found. “That’s better than some of my undergraduates,” Dr. Sawyer said. Continue reading “Those naughty boomers”
A study found being prone to distress at the age of seven was associated with a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease in later life.
Conversely children who were better at paying attention and staying focused had reduced heart risk when older, reports the BBC. “The US researchers said more work was needed to understand the link.
“Their study looked at 377 adults who had taken part in research as children. At seven they had undergone several tests to look at emotional behaviour.They compared the results from this with a commonly used risk score for cardiovascular disease of participants now in their early 40s.
“After controlling for other factors which might influence heart disease risk, they found that high levels of distress at age seven were associated with a 31% increased risk of cardiovascular disease in middle-aged women. Continue reading “Unhappy kids more at risk for heart disease”
The idea that violence is contagious doesn’t appear in the Obama administration’s gun control plan, nor in the National Rifle Association’s arguments. But some scientists believe that understanding the literally infectious nature of violence
is essential to preventing it. Today’s Wired Science carries a piece that says
“To say violence is a sickness that threatens public health isn’t just a figure of speech, they argue. It spreads from person to person, a germ of an idea that causes changes in the brain, thriving in certain social conditions.
“A century from now, people might look back on violence prevention in the early 21st century as we now regard the primitive cholera prevention efforts in the early 19th century, when the disease was considered a product of filth and immorality rather than a microbe.
“It’s extremely important to understand this differently than the way we’ve been understanding it,” said Gary Slutkin, Continue reading “Violence as disease”
An American church is promising gay men they will be cured of their homosexuality if they stroke horses, reports a story today in GayStarNews.
“The Cowboy Church of Virginia, led by chief pastor Raymond Bell, believes homosexuality and other ‘addictions’ can be cured by Equine Assisted Psychotherapy.
“Horse therapy, in the right hands, can be used to help overcome fears, develop communication skills, and is generally beneficial to mental health.
But Bell says the horses in his church, a cowboy ranch in the south, are part of teaching men to stop being gay and encourage them to be more masculine.‘EAP can help any person who is living the homosexual lifestyle or involved in it in anyway,’ he told Gay Star News.‘The first common misconception is that homosexuality is genetic, or hereditary, or as some say “born this way”. Continue reading “Horse sense”
“The life-saving medicine arrives on cargo trucks and in suitcases, crossing borders to be put on sale in pharmacies, shops and hospitals. There is just one problem: it isn’t life-saving at all,” reports today’s edition of The Guardian. By some reports a leading source of the problematic vaccines in China.
“To look at the packaging, you would never know. It is usually a dead ringer for the real thing. Only on closer inspection will you find a watermark missing or notice the crumbling edges of a tablet that to well-trained inspectors can be the telltale signs of fakery. Even health professionals are routinely fooled. Continue reading “Fake malaria treatments stymie efforts”