Both gaining and losing weight in old age increases the risk of dementia, research suggests.
A study found that people over 60 who have gained or lost more than 10 percent of their BMI in more than two years are 20 percent more likely to develop memory-inflammatory disorder.
Obesity has been associated with inflammation, which can cause cognitive decline, the researchers claim.
And weight loss can be a sign of another underlying condition that has its own link to dementia, such as heart disease or cancer, they add.
Both gaining and losing weight in old age increases the risk of dementia (stock)
The research was conducted by Kyungpook National University in South Korea and led by professor Jin-Won Kwon of the pharmacy college.
& # 39; Both weight gain and weight loss can be important risk factors associated with dementia, & # 39; wrote the researchers in the magazine BMJ Open.
& # 39; Our results suggest that continuous weight control, disease management, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are beneficial for the prevention of dementia, even later in life. & # 39;
Dementia is a global health concern that will deteriorate as we live longer.
Around 46.8 million people worldwide were diagnosed with the condition in 2015, which cost around £ 642 billion ($ 818 billion) that year alone.
Meanwhile, the global prevalence of obesity has increased by more than 100 percent in the last forty years.
Because dementia is an irreversible, progressive disorder, studies have focused on how to prevent it, with many pointing to BMI.
Middle-aged obesity has been associated with cognitive decline, but studies that show that being overweight can cause dementia are inconsistent.
WHAT IS DEMENTIA? THE DEADLY DISEASE THAT ROBERS SUFFER FROM THEIR MEMORIES
A GLOBAL CONCERN
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a series of progressive neurological disorders, that is, disorders affecting the brain.
There are many different forms of dementia, of which Alzheimer's is the most common.
Some people may have a combination of forms of dementia.
Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience his dementia in his own unique way.
Dementia is a global concern, but it is most often seen in richer countries, where people are likely to grow old.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED?
The Alzheimer's & # 39; s Society reports that today more than 850,000 people with dementia live in the UK, more than 500,000 of whom have Alzheimer's.
It is estimated that the number of people with dementia in the UK will increase to more than 1 million in 2025.
In the US, it is estimated that there are 5.5 million people with Alzheimer's disease. A comparable percentage increase is expected in the coming years.
As the age of a person increases, so does the risk of developing dementia.
The diagnosis rates are improving, but many people with dementia are thought to have not yet been diagnosed.
IS THERE A CURE?
There is currently no cure for dementia.
But new drugs can slow progression and the sooner it is seen, the more effective the treatments are.
Source: Dementia UK
To discover how weight change at a later age affects a person's dementia risk, the researchers analyzed 67,219 people between 60 and 79 years old.
Participants were randomly selected from the National Health Insurance Service-Health Screening Cohort (NHIS-HEALS), which comprises nearly 10 percent of Koreans.
After an average of five years, 4,887 of the male and 6,685 of the female participants had developed dementia.
The results showed that the men who had received more than 10 percent of their BMI were 25 percent more at risk for the memory-inflammatory disease, while the chances of women increased by 17 percent.
And the men and women who lost more than ten percent of their BMI were 26 and 15 percent more likely to develop dementia, respectively.
Weight loss can be a symptom of dementia that occurs before other symptoms, the researchers claim.
Dr. James Pickett, head of research at Alzheimer's Society, said: Although this research suggests that rapid changes in our weight later in life can increase the risk of dementia, it is difficult to distinguish between cause and consequence.
& # 39; People with early dementia can often report changes in their appetite and diet. & # 39;
Dr. comment. Pickett suggests that people may lose weight or gain weight due to a change in eating habits caused by their brain damage, and that weight change may be a symptom rather than a cause.
Results also showed that the BMI of a participant at the start of the study had no influence on his dementia risk, with the exception of underweight men.
On the contrary, it was the weight change that was important.
Rapid weight gain increases the amount of fat that old people store, which is associated with higher markers of inflammation.
However, our BMI does not always accurately reflect our fat distribution.
In addition to weight change, high cholesterol and blood pressure were also associated with the onset of dementia.
This may be because they limit the flow through blood vessels, which can result in reduced blood flow to the brain.
This in turn can lead to lesions, small areas of dead tissue and cell degeneration in the vital organ.
In addition to weight change, high cholesterol and blood pressure were also associated with the onset of dementia. stock
Unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking were also associated with an increased risk of dementia, while exercising with at least three times a week reduced the chance.
Diabetics with high fasting blood sugar levels were up to 60 percent more likely to develop the memory deprivation condition.
Perhaps surprisingly enough, drinking at least three times a week only drank the risk among the male participants. The researchers claim that future studies should look at how the type, frequency, and amount of drink affect a person's dementia.
They also argue for a program that explains how we can reduce our dementia risk.
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