the fight against alzheimer’s – part 1

The mid-June announcement that AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly and Co. would be discontinuing two late-stage clinical trials of an Alzheimer’s treatment they were co-developing was another entry on to the list of disappointing news about this devastating disease.

With no cure, vaccine or magic pill, we continue to wait for treatments for those already suffering from Alzheimer’s. And for many of us – particularly baby boomers who, en masse, are the second largest living generation (surpassed only by millennials) – the obvious question is, how can we lower our risk for the disease: the most common type of dementia? A variety of studies may offer promise in some likely and unlikely places. Some worth noting include:

Research published this past July in the journal Neurology indicates a clear association between higher blood pressure later in life and the presence of tangles and plaques in the brain – primary markers of Alzheimer’s. So controlling blood pressure can be seen as important in preventing cognitive decline.

Researchers at Tel-Aviv University and the Department of Psychology at Bar-Ilan University, in Israel, are among those finding evidence to support the use of cannabis in treating Alzheimer’s patients. More studies are underway to evaluate the use of cannabis oil as an anti-inflammatory to slow the progression of the disease.

A 2017 study out of Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Stanford University indicates that sleep disruption in healthy middle-aged adults causes an increase in amyloid beta, a protein in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s. It also leads to an increase in tau proteins, which have been linked to brain damage in the disease.

Say “OM” and breathe. Researchers from Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that study participants practicing yoga and meditation had better brain connectivity than the control group, potentially slowing the progression of the disease.

Special Note: After this series was completed, a promising update on drug trials was released. Massachusetts-based Biogen and Japanese partner Eisai have released data on their drug called BAN2401 showing that it helped Alzheimer’s patients perform 30% better on a cognitive test compared to patients getting a placebo. That’s pretty significant but a larger study is needed. That cannot come soon enough.

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