Japanese Diet May Help Extend Life

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Many articles and studies have extolled the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet (Search for Mediterranean under Health > Diet). Now the “Japanese diet” has entered the field.

Life expectancy in Japan is among the highest in the world, with Japanese women having the longest life expectancy of anyone in the world, with an average age of 87.

The study enrolled 36,624 men Japanese and 42,920 Japanese women between the ages of 45 and 75, and followed them for 15 years. Those participants who closely followed government recommended dietary guidelines were 15% less likely to die over the 15 years, and were 22% less likely to die of stroke during those 15 years,

“Our findings suggest that balanced consumption of energy, grains, vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, eggs, soy products, dairy products, confectionaries, and alcoholic beverages can contribute to longevity by decreasing the risk of death, predominantly from cardiovascular disease, in the Japanese population,” the authors wrote.

Links to articles about the study, together with the study itself, have be published in Health > Diet:
Following a Japanese diet may help you live longer
Japanese Diet Filled High In Grains, Vegetables, And Fish May Lower Heart Disease Risk

Published Research:
Quality of diet and mortality among Japanese men and women: Japan Public Health Center based prospective study

Category: Aging, Announcements, Health

Yoga, Meditation, Running: Possible Help for Brains

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Spend a few minutes on the web searching for “benefits of yoga”, and you’ll keep coming up with phrases like these:

Stress relief, inner peace
Create strength, awareness and harmony in both the mind and body
Gives you peace of mind, gives you inner strength
Improves Brain Function
Yoga may help bring calm and mindfulness to your busy life
Yoga also helps to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol

Obviously, most of these indicate an effect on the mind/brain. This led researchers at UCLA to investigate the effects of using yoga in a small study (split into control and experimental subgroups) involving 25 participants over 55. Both groups had positive improvements, but the experimental group’s improvements were greater.

Links to stories about the study, as well as to the published study itself, are listed below and have be included in Alzheimers > Amelioration/Prevention.

Yoga May Be Good for the Brain
Could Yoga Help Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk?

Published research:
Changes in Neural Connectivity and Memory Following a Yoga Intervention for Older Adults: A Pilot Study.

Meditation is one component of yoga, and was practiced by the experimental subgroup in the yoga study above together with the more physical yoga exercises. In a related study, a group at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J investigated combining meditation with running as a means of alleviating depression. Working with a group of 52 people, 22 of which had been diagnosed as depressed, the program had clear benefits. The 22 participants with depression had a 40% reduction in depression symptoms, while the healthy control group reported feeling happier than they had felt at the start of the study. Since depression is a very common component of the onset of dementia, this study has clear applicability to management of dementia.

Links to stories about the study, as well as to the published study itself, are listed below and have be included in Alzheimers > Amelioration/Prevention.

Combining Aerobic Exercise and Meditation Reduces Depression
Exercise and meditation together help beat depression

Published research:
MAP training: combining meditation and aerobic exercise reduces depression and rumination while enhancing synchronized brain activity

Bigger Brains (at least not Smaller)

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A study looking at 1,094 participants from the Framingham Heart Study shows that people who are more physically active in middle age tend to have larger brain volumes in later life.

The study participants were an average age of 40, with no signs of dementia or heart disease. They took a treadmill fitness test and underwent MRIs. Twenty years later, they underwent another treadmill test, along with MRI brain scans.

The estimates of brain volume were calculated based on measurements of oxygen used during treadmill tests, together with blood pressure and heart rate tests. Based on these estimates, people who were more active in their 40s tended to have larger brain volumes twenty years later.

Links to articles about the study and the study itself have been posted in Health > Physical Exercise:
People who exercise at middle age might have bigger brains later on
Exercise at middle age may keep brain bigger later in life
Better Fitness In Middle Age May Stop This Organ From Shrinking

Published research:
Midlife exercise blood pressure, heart rate, and fitness relate to brain volume 2 decades later

Some Early Stage Drug Research

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Drug research relating to dementia and Alzheimer’s is ongoing. Below is a collection of relatively recent reports. All of the links have been added to Alzheimers > Treatment > Drugs

trazodone and dibenzoylmethane

From the articles:
A team of scientists who a few years ago identified a major pathway that leads to brain cell death in mice, have now found two drugs that block the pathway and prevent neurodegeneration. The drugs caused minimal side effects in the mice and one is already licensed for use in humans, so is ready for clinical trials.

Experts excited by brain ‘wonder-drug’
Scientists discover two repurposed drugs that arrest neurodegeneration in mice
Published research:
Repurposed drugs targeting eIF2α-P-mediated translational repression prevent neurodegeneration in mice

Methylene blue

Drug Could Improve Short-term Memory, Study Says [06/28/2016]
Methylene Blue Shows Promise for Improving Short-Term Memory [June 28, 2016]
Published research:
Multimodal Randomized Functional MR Imaging of the Effects of Methylene Blue in the Human Brain [November 2016]


Testing of new Alzheimer’s drug disappoints, but it’s not all bad news [July 27, 2016]
TauRx Alzheimer’s Drug LMTX Fails in Large Study Although Some Benefit Seen [July 27, 2016]

mefenamic acid

This Common Period Pain Medication Reverses Alzheimer’s Symptoms in Mice [16 Aug 2016]
Treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease possible [11 Aug 2016]
Alzheimer’s Disease: Period Pain Drug Cures Symptoms In Mice, New Research Shows [08/13/16]
Research publication:
Fenamate NSAIDs inhibit the NLRP3 inflammasome and protect against Alzheimer’s disease in rodent models [11 August 2016]

Category: Announcements, Drugs

Evolution, Genetics, and Alzheimer’s

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Numerous trials have been run hoping to develop and validate drugs which would either slow, stop, or reverse the development of Alzheimer’s in humans. Yet over several decades none have succeeded. Almost all of these attempts have been based on the “amyloid hypothesis”, and consequently, some researchers have started looking in new directions.

One exciting such new direction involves mitochondrial DNA, which we inherit from our mothers, but not our fathers. This difference might account for the fact that people whose family history showed Alzheimer’s on their mother’s side were more likely to get Alzheimer’s than people whose family history only showed Alzheimer’s on the father’s side. So various mitochondrial diseases and failures could be genetically responsible for the development of Alzheimer’s in the brain.

It is widely regarded that most non-human primates do not exhibit Alzheimer’s, although they exhibit related symptoms and brain changes. The new study focused on the idea that thus, Alzheimer’s ought to have come about in human beings due to some evolutionarily recent change in our brains setting us apart from existing primate species. The study focused on one such change, the development of “retrotransposons”, or so-called “jumping genes”.

An excellent extended exposition of this work is available at
When copy-paste attacks: A possible answer to the mystery of Alzheimer’s disease

Another article about the work is
‘Jumping genes’ may set the stage for brain cell death in Alzheimer’s, other diseases

The research publication itself is at
The Alu neurodegeneration hypothesis: A primate-specific mechanism for neuronal transcription noise, mitochondrial dysfunction, and manifestation of neurodegenerative disease

Links to the articles and the research publication have been posted in Alzheimers > Risk Factors > Genetics.

New Site for The Science of Aging

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Geroscience is a new site devoted to exploring and explaining the developing science around human aging and longevity. Features and news on the site will cover topics including (from Geroscience > About):

  • …interviews with experts, looks behind the scenes of everyday lab life, and the latest trends from longevity conferences;
  • …perspectives of leading researchers, entrepreneurs, and other experts … shar[ing] ideas about aging and longevity;
  • …the business of geoscience, including investment coverage, clinical trial data, and insight into the regulatory world.

Strong Brain will post about selected Geroscience news and feature articles under Aging, or under one of the Alzheimer’s categories. A link to the site has been added to Aging > Organizations.

Category: Aging, Announcements

Green For Health

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Old novels would send heroes and heroines (especially) to the country to recover from physical and/or mental maladies. Cliche or not, getting near at least some green is good for your health and longevity. Small studies have pointed at this over the years, but now a massive new 108,000-woman study, based on the Nurse’s Health Study, seriously quantifies this. In particular, the death rate of women living in the greenest areas was 12% lower than women living in the least green areas. Compared to women living in areas with less greenery, the researchers found that women in greener areas had:

  • lower levels of depression
  • 41% lower death rate for kidney disease
  • 34% lower death rate for respiratory disease
  • 13% lower death rate for cancer

The study results don’t say that you should immediately abandon city living and head for the country. But they do suggest that greater amounts of green in the immediate environs of your home will help your health.

Links to articles about the study and the study itself have been posted in both Aging and Health:

Living near nature linked to longer lives, says study
Being Surrounded By Greenery, Plant Life Linked To Lower Mortality Rates In Women
Published research:
Exposure to Greenness and Mortality in a Nationwide Prospective Cohort Study of Women

Additionally, here are links to some earlier articles and studies on the benefits of time spent in nature on physical and mental health:
Stanford researchers find mental health prescription: Nature
Published research:
Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation
A systematic review of evidence for the added benefits to health of exposure to natural environments

Category: Announcements, Health

Fighting The Fog Of Chemo Brain

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As if fighting cancer wasn’t bad enough, it appears that many chemotherapy treatments (as well the cancer itself or related conditions) interfere with memory and thinking. While not many direct treatments for chemobrain currently exist (a few drugs may be of help), there are a number of coping strategies to minimize the effects of chemobrain.

We’ve added new links pointing at four web articles about chemo brain generally, and about coping with it. The links have been added under Chemo Brain. The articles are:
Chemo brain [Mayo Clinic]
Chemobrain [MD Anderson Center]
Chemo Brain
Attention, Thinking, or Memory Problems

Bad Sleep Can Indicate Higher Stroke Liklihood

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In seniors, a raised risk of hardening of the brain arteries, and hence possibly a raised risk of the chances of a stroke, can be signaled by poor sleep. A study examined the autopsied brains of 315 people, twenty-nine percent of whom had suffered a stroke, and 61 percent had moderate-to-severe damage to blood vessels in the brain.
All of the people studied had participated in at least a week of sleep quality assessment sometime before dying. Sleep was disrupted (called “sleep fragmentation” — repeated awakenings or arousals) an average of nearly seven times an hour among the study participants. Those with the highest levels of sleep fragmentation were 27% more likely to have hardening of the brain arteries.

Two articles about the study, as well as the study itself, are linked in: Alzheimer’s > Risk Factors:

Sleep disruptions in seniors tied to unhealthy brain changes

Fragmented sleep in older adults may lead to severe cerebral arteriolosclerosis

Published research:
Sleep Fragmentation, Cerebral Arteriolosclerosis, and Brain Infarct Pathology in Community-Dwelling Older People

Category: Announcements

Anti-Aging Effects From An Anti-Alzheimer’s Drug

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So far it’s only in mice, but a promising drug from a Salk Institute laboratory has shown the ability to not only reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s and memory loss, but to improve memory and other tests for cognition. In addition, older mice receiving the drug also displayed more robust motor movement, and based on gene expression monitoring, showed physiological aspects more similar to young mice, including increased energy metabolism, reduced brain inflammation and reduced levels of oxidized fatty acids in the brain. The laboratory hopes to being human trials next year.

Links to articles about the work, as well as the published study, have been posted in both Aging and Alzheimers > Treatment > Drugs:

Experimental Alzheimer’s Drug Shows Anti-Aging Effects

Experimental drug targeting Alzheimer’s disease shows anti-aging effects

Published study:
A comprehensive multiomics approach toward understanding the relationship between aging and dementia

Category: Aging, Announcements, Drugs