Monitor on Psychology - October 2011 - (Page 48)
There is plenty we can do now to reduce our risk for Alzheimer’s disease, new research shows.
BY JAMIE C HAMB ERLI N • Monitor staff
he number of older Americans with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease will likely increase from more than 5 million in 2010 to up to 6.5 million over the next 10 years, straining the U.S. health-care system and family caregivers alike, said Margaret Gatz, PhD, of the University of Southern California, at APA’s 2011 Annual Convention. That picture could improve if there are significant advances in treatment and prevention, said Gatz. But at the same time, “the picture could look worse if modifiable risk factors like diabetes or obesity continue to rise among those now middle aged.” Through her more than 25 years of research on cognitive decline through the Swedish Twin Registry — a sample of nearly 12,000 twins now age 65 or older — Gatz has found that diabetes and obesity are among the most significant nongenetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Genes still appear to play the biggest role in Alzheimer’s risk — her twin data indicate that about 70 percent of risk for Alzheimer’s is likely genetic. But the findings on diabetes and
obesity strengthen the argument for Americans to embrace healthier lifestyles, particularly underserved populations, which are more likely to have these conditions, said Gatz. “These are the kind of health disparities we are very concerned about in the U.S. today and now here’s one more potential implication — a possible increase in rates of Alzheimer’s,” she said. Her twin study findings also indicate that many Alzheimer’s risk factors exert their influence at different points in the life span. For example, diabetes appears to be particularly potent as a risk factor when its onset is in midlife rather than late life, Gatz said. Tapping into the sample’s data on tooth loss before age 35, Gatz has also found that developing periodontal disease early in life is associated with a particular risk for developing Alzheimer’s as older adults. “Over three times more often, the twin with more tooth loss is the twin who develops dementia, and we find the same for Alzheimer’s disease,” said Gatz.
MONITOR ON PSYCHOLOGY • OCTOBER 2011
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Monitor on Psychology - October 2011
Monitor on Psychology - October 2011
Subtle and stunning slights
From the CEO
Live science on the showroom floor
Zimbardo re-examines his landmark study
Ready, set, mentor
Attention students and ECPs: Self-care is an ‘ethical imperative’
Suicide risk is high among war veterans in college, study finds
Psychotherapy is effective and here’s why
From toilet to tap: getting people to drink recycled water
What’s ahead for psychology practice?
A push for more accountability is changing the accreditation process
Peer, parental support prove key to fighting childhood obesity
Popular media’s message to girls
Bullying may contribute to lower test scores
A consequence of cuckoldry: More (and better) sex?
Manatees’ exquisite sense of touch may lead them into dangerous waters
Building a better tomato
How will China’s only children care for their aging parents?
‘Spice’ and ‘K2’: New drugs of abuse now on the market
Many suspects don’t understand their right to remain silent
Boosting minority achievement
Where’s the progress?
And social justice for all
Helping new Americans find their way
Segregation’s ongoing legacy
A new way to combat prejudice
Retraining the biased brain
Suppressing the ‘white bears’
How to eat better — mindlessly
Protect your aging brain
Must babies always breed marital discontent?
The danger of stimulants
Keys to making integrated care work
Is technology ruining our kids?
Facebook: Friend or foe?
The promise of Web 3.0
NIMH invests in IT enhanced interventions
PsycAdvocates work to safeguard key programs
The psychology of spending cuts
APA’s strategic plan goes live
Vote on bylaws amendments
Monitor on Psychology - October 2011