The number of residents in nursing homes and long-term care units suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia is astounding. These patients are supposed to receive a carefully-tailored plan where doctors and nurses help administer and monitor these patients carefully. Scientific and medical research are searching for more definitive answers as to the cause of Alzheimer’s as it is still unclear why some individuals lose their mental capacity late in later while other do not at all.
Many Alzheimer’s patients also experience dementia. Dementia can also lead to increased risk of stroke and tumor growth. Research into Alzheimer’s continues to look, for answers on how these diseases can be avoided. One study already has found a correlation between obesity and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s as obese individuals are nearly 35% more likely to develop the disease than those of average weight.
The Telegraph, a UK media source, recently reported that weight loss surgery can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s in patients. According to this study, obese women who had gastric bypass surgery experienced a complete reversal of the posterior cingulate gyrus characteristics which is thought to be linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s. This posterior cingulate gyrus showed a decreased activity in portions of the brain nearly six months following surgery. Apparently obese woman prior to the surgery metabolized sugar in the body faster in that portion of the brain then women of average weight. According to Professor Cintia Cercato of the University of San Paulo in Brazil, when they studied the obese women before weight loss surgery, they found that parts of the brain were processing sugar to produce energy faster than normal weight women.
This type of brain activity is similar to that of leaner women. This study not only draws a connection between activity levels in parts of the brain as being associated with Alzheimer’s decrease, but also improvement in various cognitive tasks. These women had better strategizing and organizational skills post operation too. Other cognitive thinking skills such as memory did not show the same type of improvement.
While the results are promising, the study only focused on 17 women in their 40s all who were severely obese. It is still unclear how this might affect those with different levels of obesity in different age brackets. While the limitations of the study are clear, it is still an interesting observation to correlate obesity and the onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia symptoms in patients.
Because weight loss led to a reversal of this dangerous activity, the researchers of this study believe that this procedure may contribute to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms in patients later in life.