How your BMI number affects your risk of Alzheimer’s disease

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Obesity in midlife is linked to an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

But in a new study from the Ohio State University, researchers found that a high body mass index later in life doesn’t necessarily translate to greater chances of developing the brain disease.

They compared data from two groups of older people who had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment—half whose disease progressed to Alzheimer’s in 24 months and a half whose condition did not worsen.

The researchers zeroed in on two risk factors: body mass index (BMI) and a cluster of genetic variants linked to a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Their analysis showed that a higher genetic risk combined with a lower BMI was linked to a higher likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s and that the association was strongest in men.

The finding does not suggest people should consider gaining weight in their later years as a preventive effort—instead, researchers speculate that lower BMI in these patients was likely a consequence of neurodegeneration, the progressive damage to the brain that is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

Brain regions affected by Alzheimer’s are also involved in controlling eating behaviors and weight regulation.

The team says that maintaining a healthy weight and having a healthy diet are extremely important to keeping inflammation and oxidative stress down—that’s a risk factor that is modifiable.

It’s something people can do to help improve their lives and prevent neurodegenerative processes as much as possible.

If a doctor starts to notice rapid weight loss in an older individual, that could actually be a reflection of a potential neurodegenerative disease process.

If you care about Alzheimer’s disease, please read studies about taking this common drug every day could prevent Alzheimer’s and findings of what you should know about extra-virgin olive oil and Alzheimer’s disease.

For more information about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, please see recent studies about these two types of drugs are linked to dementia and results showing the major cause of dementia.

The study is published in Journals of Gerontology: Series A. One author of the study is Jasmeet Hayes.

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