American Academy of Neurology 58th Annual Meeting scientific highlights

The 58th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology scientific highlights gave new insight into the risk factors for Alzheimer's disease, improvements in the treatment of multiple sclerosis and neuropathy, and cutting-edge advances in treatments for spinal cord injury and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Results from more than 1,600 scientific studies were presented. Some of the most important findings were presented by John Noseworthy, MD, Chair of the AAN Science Committee and Professor of Neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. highlights included:

Risk Factors for Dementia
The "Mediterranean diet" may reduce the risk for developing Alzheimer's disease. Researchers in New York examined over 2000 subjects, interviewing them about dietary habits and testing their cognitive ability over time. Those who ate a Mediterranean diet--high in vegetables, grain, and unsaturated fats, and low in meat and dairy--were less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease.

Obesity in midlife may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease, according to researchers in California. Health records from 1964 and the present were examined for almost 9,000 middle-aged individuals, correlating past obesity to the risk for a current diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. Individuals in the top 20 percent of obesity measures in 1964 were two to three times as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease as those in the bottom 20 percent. Cognitive decline is also increased with lower blood levels of the hormone leptin, which affects both appetite and brain development. In a study of almost 3,000 healthy elderly followed over five years, those with the lowest leptin levels had a greater decline in their cognitive ability than those with the highest levels.

Sex hormones may also play a role in the risk for cognitive decline. In a study of almost 800 men and women, those women with the lowest levels of estradiol (a type of estrogen) declined fastest, com

Contact: Robin Stinnett
American Academy of Neurology

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