Skip to content

Something surprising - having cancer is linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease and a lower risk of neurodegenerative symptoms (e.g., memory loss) during their lifetimes.

One big analysis and review of 22 studies (representing more then 9.6 million people!) calculated that cancer diagnoses are associated with 11% reduction in Alzheimer's disease occurrence. However, this relationship does not hold true for melanoma. [Also, there is a strong positive correlation between melanoma and Parkinson's disease - which is a neurodegenerative condition.]

There are some theories, but it is still unknown why this lower risk of Alzheimer's disease occurs in persons with cancer.

Excerpts from The Scientist: Cancer Tied to Reduced Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

In recent years, scientists around the world have been probing an unexpected trend: The risk of developing cancer seems to have an inverse relationship with the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  ...continue reading "Reduced Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease In Those With Cancer"

Eating berries frequently or daily has all sorts of health benefits. Two recent studies have focused on daily consumption of cranberries and found them to be beneficial for memory and neural functioning, and also for heart health.

Both studies had persons ingest whole cranberry powder (equivalent to 100 grams or 1 cup of whole cranberries) daily for 12 weeks (memory study) or 1 month (heart study).

While studies usually focus on just one type of berry to try to figure out how and what health benefits are occurring, there is no one berry a person should eat. Eat them all! Studies show they all offer something a little different, and all also have lots of fiber (very important for health!).

Also, eat real foods, not supplements. Again: studies do not find that there is one food or supplement that will prevent health problems or dementia. Eat more fruits, berries, vegetables, and cut back on ultra-processed foods. [See Medscape article below.]

From Medscape: A Cup of Cranberries a Day Tied to Better Memory

For healthy middle-aged and older adults, adding cranberries to the diet may help improve memory and brain function, in addition to lowering LDL cholesterol, new research suggests. ...continue reading "Good Reasons to Eat Cranberries"

Blueberries. Credit: Wikipedia

We have known for a while that frequently eating berries has health benefits. A recent study found that overweight middle-aged persons eating blueberries daily for 12 weeks resulted in both metabolic and memory improvements.

The researchers stated that the results suggest that frequently eating blueberries could be protective against cognitive decline and lower the risk of dementia later on in life.

The study involved thirty-three overweight prediabetic middle-aged adults who already felt that their memory was not as good as in years past. They were randomly assigned to either the blueberry (whole freeze-dried blueberry powder) group or the placebo group (a similar looking powder that did not contain blueberries). The blueberry powder was equivalent to 1/2 cup whole blueberries and was eaten once a day for 12 weeks. The benefits of blueberries are thought to be from micronutrients and anthocyanins, which are antioxidants.

By the way, all berries (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc.) are slightly different in micronutrients and are viewed as beneficial to health and lowering the risk of chronic diseases, including the risk of dementia. As are colorful fruits and vegetables. Don't focus on just one type of berry - eat them all!

From Medical Xpress: Regular blueberry consumption may reduce risk of dementia, study finds

Researchers led by UC's Robert Krikorian, Ph.D., found that adding blueberries to the daily diets of certain middle-aged populations may lower the chances of developing late-life dementia. ...continue reading "Eating Blueberries Has Health Benefits"

The debate over health effects of light to moderate alcohol consumption continues. Today I read 2 studies with different conclusions about the effects of drinking small to moderate amounts of alcohol.

One study found a lower risk of type 2 diabetes when wine is drunk with meals, and the other study found that light to moderate drinking resulted in reductions in brain volume. One study health benefits, the other negative effects...

From Medical Xpress: Study finds drinking wine with meals was associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes

An analysis of health data for nearly 312,400 current drinkers suggests consuming alcohol, most notably wine, with meals is associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Health Conference 2022.

Consuming alcohol with meals was associated with a 14% lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared to consuming alcohol without eating food.

From Medical Xpress: More alcohol, less brain: Study finds an association that begins with an average of just one drink a day

... But according to a new study, alcohol consumption even at levels most would consider modest—a few beers or glasses of wine a week—may also carry risks to the brain. An analysis of data from more than 36,000 adults, led by a team from the University of Pennsylvania, found that light-to-moderate alcohol consumption was associated with reductions in overall brain volume.

The link grew stronger the greater the level of alcohol consumption, the researchers showed. 

Many people think that only exercises done in a gym, in exercise classes, or with exercise equipment can improve health. But no! Any physical activity is good, which means ordinary walks and household tasks or housework are beneficial. And the more frequently you do them, the more beneficial.

Studies show that physical activity from housework tasks (e.g., vacuuming) are associated with improved cognition, increased brain volume, and executive functioning of the brain in older adults, and with less frailty. Higher levels of physical activity are linked to a reduction in early death and heart diseases. Heavy household tasks (e.g. vacuuming, window cleaning, scrubbing, painting) have more benefits than light household tasks (e.g., dusting, ironing, doing laundry, washing dishes, cooking).

I know, I know - no one wants to get up and do such household tasks as vacuuming, but think of it as exercise class replacement.

A commentary (and video) by Dr. Stephan Martin discussing studies showing housework improving health and fitness. From Medscape: Housework Can Increase Brain Volume and Physical Fitness

Physical activity is a panacea: it protects against cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction and stroke. Very active people are less likely to have type 2 diabetes, and the prevalence of dementia is apparently lower for them.  ...continue reading "Physical Activity of Housework Has Health Benefits"

An Epstein Barr virus infection is so common that about 95% of us have had it at some point in life, usually childhood. Sometimes it leads to mononucleosis. New research strengthens the case that the Epstein Barr virus (EBV) also plays a part in the development of multiple sclerosis (MS).

The study found that getting an EBV infection (mononucleosis) in early adulthood acts as a trigger for later development of multiple sclerosis - about 10 years later. MS usually develops between the ages of 20 to 40 in adulthood. The results are so compelling because the Harvard Univ. researchers looked at data from 10 million young adults on active duty in the US military. They found that risk of MS increased 32-fold after infection with EBV, but not other viruses.

Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease in which the immune system attacks the brain and spinal cord, stripping away protective insulation (myelin) around the nerve cells. The Epstein Barr virus is a herpes virus that attacks a type of immune cell called B cells. After the initial EBV infection the virus remains dormant in a person's cells for the rest of the person's life. A number of studies have found EBV-infected B cells in the brains and demyelinated lesions of MS patients.

The hope now is to develop an EBV vaccine or stop the virus with antiviral drugs targeting EBV, and that this could ultimately prevent or cure MS. Keep in mind that EBV is considered a multifactorial disease by many, with several factors increasing the risk - such as having certain genes, not getting enough vitamin D, and also an Epstein Barr virus infection

From Science Daily: Epstein-Barr virus may be leading cause of multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS), a progressive disease that affects 2.8 million people worldwide and for which there is no definitive cure, is likely caused by infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), according to a study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers.  ...continue reading "Epstein Barr Virus May Be A Trigger For Developing Multiple Sclerosis"

Yikes! Just two weeks later, a post has outdated information. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is now found in 28 states - not 27 as I posted December 30, 2021. The additional  state where a wild white-tail deer has been found to have CWD is Alabama. Yes, the disease is spreading!

Chronic wasting disease is an always-fatal prion disease similar to "mad-cow disease" (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in cattle. This disease is only found in cervids - deer, elk, reindeer, and moose. Medical opinion is that there is a species barrier, a "thin molecular barrier" preventing crossing over of the prion disease to cattle and humans.

Why the concern?  The concern is that this disease will jump to humans, especially in people who eat contaminated meat. No human cases have been detected, but health officials warn people to avoid eating meat from CWD infected animals.

Therefore hunters are advised to bring  hunter harvested heads of deer, elk, and moose for testing. In Alabama it's at drop-off freezer or sampling stations.

In chronic wasting disease there is a long incubation period, followed by the brain becoming progressively like a sponge - riddled with holes, along with deterioration in brain function, behavioral changes, and eventually death. A horrible slow death. There are no treatments or vaccines.

One scary thing about CWD is that once it gets into the soil, it stays there for years, and high heat, disinfectants, and radiation don't kill it. Yikes! Dr.Zabel at the Colorado State Univ. Prion Research Center suggested a few years ago that controlled burns (fires) of infected fields or areas could eliminate the prions left behind by infected animals (from animal mucus/saliva, urine, and feces, and decaying carcasses) on plants and soil.

An article with advice for how hunters can protect themselves, and a map of where CWD is found in the US.: 5 Ways Hunters Can Prevent Spreading Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic Wasting Disease Resource Center monitoring the situation and publishing information and research on its site is CIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease and Policy). From the Jan. 14, 2022 news scan, CIDRAP:  With positive test in a deer, Alabama becomes 28th state to detect CWD

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been detected for the first time in Alabama, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) confirmed last week.  ...continue reading "Chronic Wasting Disease Now in 28 States"

Chronic wasting disease has spread even further among wild game this past year in the US, and for the first time has been detected in Idaho (in 2 mule deer bucks). This is an always-fatal prion disease similar to "mad-cow disease" (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in cattle. The concern is that this disease will jump to humans, especially in people who eat contaminated meat.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) should be of concern to all hunters or people who eat wild-caught game (deer, elk, moose, reindeer). No human cases have been detected, but health officials warn people to avoid eating meat from CWD infected animals.

In chronic wasting disease there is a long incubation period, followed by the brain become progressively like a sponge - riddled with holes, along with deterioration in brain function, behavioral changes, and eventually death. A horrible slow death. There are no treatments or vaccines.

It is clear that chronic wasting disease is slowly spreading and infecting wild game across the United States, since it was first detected in wild deer in 1981. It has been found in 27 states and 4 Canadian provinces. This year CWD was found in new regions, far from where it had been detected earlier. It is unknown how this spread is occurring.

For example, it was found in hunter-harvested deer in Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge (Arkansas), which is 70 miles from where it was earlier detected in Mississippi, and 200 miles from another spot in Arkansas.

Some states have detected quite a few cases of CWD in wild deer over the years (e.g. Minnesota). It has also detected in Finland, Norway, South Korea, and Sweden.

A Chronic Wasting Disease Resource Center monitoring the situation and publishing information and research on its site is CIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease and Policy). Make sure to look at the Tweets (Twitter).

One scary thing about CWD is that once it gets into the soil, it stays there for years, and high heat, disinfectants, and radiation don't kill it. Yikes! Dr.Zabel at the Colorado State Univ. Prion Research Center suggested a few years ago that controlled burns (fires) of infected fields or areas could eliminate the prions left behind by infected animals (from animal mucus/saliva, urine, and feces, and decaying carcasses) on plants and soil.

An article with advice for how hunters can protect themselves, and a map of where CWD is found in the US.: 5 Ways Hunters Can Prevent Spreading Chronic Wasting Disease

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has several chronic wasting disease pages, including prevention and transmission.

Here is some of what CIDRAP says on their site about CWD: ...continue reading "Chronic Wasting Disease Now In 27 States"

As we get older, we may notice that we're forgetting things, or we're having trouble remembering names, or... And we wonder if we're starting to "lose our mind" and developing dementia.

A recent study has good news - even in persons labeled as having Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), 2 1/2 years later about half had improved and no longer fit the criteria of mild cognitive impairment. Back to normal! (Other studies have similar results.)

The big question is why do so many improve, and why do others get worse?

This study conducted by Columbia University researchers was part of a long-term study looking at aging in older adults living in New York City (thus the study was "community based"). All 2903 participants (white, black, and Hispanic) did not have Mild Cognitive Impairment or dementia at the start of the study (the baseline), were followed for 6 years, and evaluated (including physical and neurological tests) every 18 to 24 months.

After an average 2.4 years follow-up after MCI diagnosis: 12.9% of individuals progressed to dementia, 9.6% declined in functioning (but did not meet the criteria for dementia), 29.6% continued to meet MCI criteria, and 47.9% no longer met MCI criteria. This last group was now "cognitively normal". (!!)

The  researchers found that the presence of the APOE4 gene (which increases the risk of Alzheimer's disease) and having more medical problems ("medical burden") increased the risk of MCI. On the other hand, more years of education, more leisure activities (e.g., reading, socializing, taking walks), and higher income decreased the risk of developing MCI. But MCI across several domains, being a carrier of the APOE4 gene, depressive symptoms, and antidepressant use increased the risk of progression to dementia

Bottom line: Older adults should try to be active, get exercise (walking counts!), have a healthy lifestyle, socialize, and be busy - it's good for mental health. Studies also find participation in arts, crafts, and using computers all lower the risk of older adults developing MCI.

From Medical Xpress: 'Mild cognitive impairment' in older age often disappears, study finds

A diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) might worry an older adult, who could see it as a stepping stone to dementia. But a new study suggests one does not necessarily lead to the other.  ...continue reading "Mild Cognitive Impairment In Older Adults Can Improve"

Some good news - a recent study found that daily coffee and tea drinking is associated with lower rates of stroke and dementia. Just an association, not a definite cause and effect, but still... nice to hear some (more) good news for us coffee and tea drinkers.

Researchers analyzed data from a large group in the United Kingdom's Biobank (a large medical data base). The 365,682 participants (aged 50 to 74 years old) were followed for about 11 years. They found that drinking coffee and tea separately or in combination were associated with a lower risk of stroke and dementia. Coffee alone or in combination with tea was also associated with lower risk of post-stroke dementia.

Most interesting finding: Drinking 2 to 3 cups of coffee with 2 to 3 cups of tea daily was associated with a 32% lower risk of stroke and a 28% lower risk of dementia (when compared to those who do not drink coffee and tea).

How much was best in this study? Moderate amounts of coffee and tea consumption are best. Two to 3 cups of coffee per day or 3 to 5 cups of tea per day, or a combination of 4 to 6 cups of coffee and tea per day, were linked with the lowest rates of stroke and dementia.

From Science Daily: Coffee and tea drinking may be associated with reduced rates of stroke and dementia

Drinking coffee or tea may be associated with a lower risk of stroke and dementia, according to a study of healthy individuals aged 50-74 publishing Nov. 16 in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine. Drinking coffee was also associated with a lower risk of post-stroke dementia.  ...continue reading "Coffee and Tea Drinking Associated With Lower Rates of Stroke and Dementia"