31 March 2008
Middle-Age Spread A Sign Of Later Dementia
Women with larger stomachs in their 40s are more likely to have dementia when they reach their 70s, suggests a study in the journal Neurology. Further, the study found that those with the highest amount of abdominal fat were nearly three times more likely to develop dementia than those with the lowest amount of abdominal fat.
"Considering that 50 percent of adults in this country have an unhealthy amount of abdominal fat, this is a disturbing finding," said study author Rachel A. Whitmer, of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research. Interestingly, having a large abdomen increased the risk of dementia regardless of whether the participants were of normal weight overall, overweight, or obese, and regardless of existing health conditions, including diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease. "Research needs to be done to determine what the mechanisms are that link abdominal obesity and dementia," said Whitmer.
Whitmer said it was possible that the association of the abdominal obesity and dementia is not driven by the abdominal obesity, but rather by a complex set of health-related behaviors, for which abdominal obesity is but one part. "Autopsies have shown that changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease may start in young to middle adulthood, and another study showed that high abdominal fat in elderly adults was tied to greater brain atrophy," Whitmer said. "These findings imply that the dangerous effects of abdominal obesity on the brain may start long before the signs of dementia appear."
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Source: American Academy of Neurology