Early Menopause Can Result in Earlier Onset Dementia

Women experiencing an early onset of menopause could develop dementia at a younger age. Research by Tonnie Coppus of Erasmus MC has indicated this. She studied women with Down Syndrome, who are known to have an early onset of menopause. The results of her research can be translated to apply to the general population.

Her results were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Women with Down Syndrome have an earlier onset of menopause compared to women in the general population, 44 years of age and 52 years of age, respectively. Coppus’ findings show a strong relationship between the age of menopause onset and the age at which dementia is diagnosed. Coppus: “Women with Down Syndrome with an early onset of menopause also appear to suffer from dementia at an early age. In addition, my study shows that these women also die younger.”

Read more at Science Daily here.

Puzzling Out 10 Alzheimer’s Myths

By JOSEPH BROWNSTEIN
ABC News Medical Unit
May 29, 2009
According to the National Institutes of Health, 2.4 to 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia in the elderly.

While we know Alzheimer’s disease gradually destroys a person’s ability to think, reason or recall memories, there is no way to diagnose it without performing an autopsy, clearly too late to help doctors trying to help the person live with the ailment.

Diagnosis consists of looking at signs of cognitive decline, among other measures. But making a definite diagnosis is, at present, not possible.

Treatment, too, has been elusive. While the disease has been linked to the accumulation and hardening of proteins known as beta amyloid on the surface of the brain, researchers were able to develop a trial vaccine that eliminated the beta amyloid plaques but did not prevent the development of Alzheimer’s. And researchers have found people who have the plaques but do not display any signs of dementia.

It has become clear that Alzheimer’s will take significantly different courses in different people, and, like cancer, likely has a multitude of causes.

Because Alzheimer’s disease’s origins and course remain a mystery, perhaps it should come as no surprise that different doctors have different approaches to the disease.

Dr. Peter Whitehouse, founder of the University Memory and Aging Center at University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University, and author of “The Myth of Alzheimer’s,” approaches Alzheimer’s as one of many natural courses of aging, rather than as a disease that requires immediate diagnosis.

Read more here: ABC News

Study Shows Alzheimer’s Hits Earlier in Smokers, Drinkers

By KATHLEEN FACKELMANN
USA Today
Apr. 17, 2008

Heavy smokers and drinkers develop Alzheimer’s years before people who don’t drink or smoke as much, a new report says.

The study, presented Wednesday at the American Academy of Neurology meeting in Chicago, suggests heavy drinking and smoking might be accelerating damage to the brain, which could lead to Alzheimer’s.

ut the flip side of the study is a message of hope: People who cut back or stop habits such as excessive smoking or drinking might reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s at a younger age. Instead of struggling with forgetfulness at age 59, such people might delay symptoms until age 65 or 70, says researcher Ranjan Duara of the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach.

Duara and his colleagues examined 938 people ages 60 and older with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, a disease that causes confusion, memory loss and behavioral problems. The team asked family members to provide patients’ histories of drinking and smoking. Then the team identified patients who had APOE4, a gene that increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s late in life.

Read more here: ABC News