Researchers are Working to Find Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease in Order to Prolong or Even Prevent the Disorder

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The threat of Alzheimer’s disease has plagued the human population for decades. The lack of knowledge surrounding the root causes, as well as the absence of a cure, are enough to panic to anyone.

Fortunately, The National Institute on Aging announced its intentions to donate a grant of $5.67 million over a span of five years to Michigan State University. The institute hopes a study will be able to pinpoint some early signs of Alzheimer’s disease — specifically in Hispanics and Latinos, who are especially prone to the degenerative disease.

The overall goal is to use the information to delay and even prevent the onset of the disease.

“Current thinking is it takes decades for Alzheimer’s disease to develop, so we are turning the clock back,” said Hector M. Gonzalez the principle investigator of the Study of Latinos.

Because an estimated 5.1 million Americans may already have Alzheimer’s without knowing it, finding the early signals could be the answer to effective care. The project will study 7,000 adults between the ages of 50 to 80 years old from different parts of the country, searching for signs of cognitive impairment — a symptom they believe may be a marker for future onset of Alzheimer’s.

However, the Denver Post announced that researchers at the National Institute of Health (NIH) may have found a link between midlife obesity and the development of Alzheimer’s. Their study showed evidence that an increased body mass index (BMI) may not only be a sign of the disease’s existence, but a sign of when it will manifest as well.

The study consisted of 1,400 patients who had undergone annual cognitive testing over 14 years — 142 of which developed Alzheimer’s.

The results showed that those with a BMI of 30 during their middle age developed the disease a year earlier than those with a BMI of 28.

It is unclear whether or not slimming down during that stage of life will have any affect, but Dr. Madhav Thambisetty of NIH’s National Institute on Aging suggests “maintaining a healthy BMI at midlife is likely to have long-lasting positive effects.”

The mix of studying cognitive abilities and physical elements of a person’s well-being may shine some light on the functions of this elusive disease. Even if not to cure or prevent it, prolonging the onset for even a few years may improve patients’ quality of life.

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