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Recent Research on Dementia

Research papers published this week suggest that dementia may be delayed or prevented by lifestyle choices earlier in life to avoid or treat heart attacks, strokes, depression or venereal diseases. Risk for dementia may possibly be increased by certain drugs that physicians prescribe to treat anxiety.

The authors of one article state that more than 50 percent of the cases of Alzheimer's disease are associated with, and may probably be prevented or delayed by reducing, heart attack risk factors and depression (The Lancet Neurology, 11/09/2014). Dementia is strongly associated with diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity, depression or smoking. The authors speculate that perhaps a major cause of dementia in North America is lack of exercise.

Venereal Diseases Linked to Dementia
In another report that reviewed 25 studies, the authors found that people suffering from dementia are ten times more likely to be infected with syphilis and five times more likely to suffer from chlamydia, compared to people without dementia (Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 11/09/2014). In 1913, Hideyo Noguchi and J. W. Moore found the bacterium that causes syphilis in the brains of people who died with dementia. Since 1998, many reports have found chlamydia in the brains of people who died with dementia (Med Microbiol Immunol, 2010 Nov;199(4):283-9 and J Infect, 2008 Jun;56(6):423-31).

Alzheimer's Disease and Strokes
Another team of authors reviewed nine studies on the association between strokes and Alzheimer's disease published between 1975 and 2013, and found that people who have had strokes have a 160 percent increased risk for Alzheimer's disease (Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 11/09/2014).

Anti-Anxiety Drugs and Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Benzodiazepine drugs to treat anxiety have been associated with increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease, and the higher the dose and the longer the drug is taken, the greater the chances of suffering from dementia (British Medical Journal, 11/09/2014). However, this is only an association; it does not prove that these drugs cause dementia. Benzodiazepines include: alprazolam (brand name Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clonazepam (Klonopin), clorazepate (Tranxene), diazepam (Valium), estazolam (Prosom), flurazepam (Dalmane), lorazepam (Ativan), midazolam (Versed), oxazepam (Serax), temazepam (Restoril), triazolam (Halcion), quazepam (Doral).

Checked 9/22/15

November 16th, 2014
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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