Research released today shows that women who have a tendency for migraines or have had them in the past, have a greater risk for developing depression.
The study gathered data on more than 36,000 women, who were all classified as not having depression. They were enrolled in the Women’s Health Study and gave information about their history of migraines.
The women also gave information about diagnoses of depression.
From 36,154, a total of 6,456 had current or past problems with migraines, and during the following 14 years of the study, more than half of them developed depression.
Those that had a history of migraines were nearly twice as likely to develop depression as those that had no history of the affliction. The results did not vary substantially, regardless of the type of migraine. Those with aura, which is described as visual disturbances that appear as flashing lights, zigzag lines or a temporary loss of vision, had the same risks as other types of migraine.
It’s useful information that patients and doctors alike should be aware of when treating depression.
People who awaken more during the night are more likely than sound sleepers to have pre-clinical signs of Alzheimer's Disease.
Trouble sleeping in middle age could herald Alzheimer’s disease later in life, according to new research linking dementia and slumber.
The findings can’t yet prove whether disturbed sleep helps contribute to the brain changes that cause Alzheimer’s or whether some other factor links the two; but preliminary results suggest that treating sleep problems might be beneficial for the brain in the long run.
“If sleep is found to affect either the beginning or the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in its early stages, then it’s really an attractive thing to try to manipulate, because getting more sleep or better sleep has really no risk,” said study researcher Yo-el Ju, an assistant professor of neurology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Plaque in the brain
In 2009, Ju’s Washington University colleague David Holtzman published research in the journal Science reporting that depriving mice of sleep causes a 25 percent increase in the levels of a protein fragment called amyloid beta in the brain. Amyloid beta is the primary ingredient in the amyloid plaques that clog the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.
These mice were genetically engineered to accumulate amyloid beta, and mouse-brain chemistry may not always match that of humans. So Ju and her colleagues, including Holtzman, turned to a group of people enrolled in the Adult Children Study, so named because half of the volunteers in the study are children of parents with Alzheimer’s.
They recruited 100 volunteers ages 45 to 80, all of whom had been clinically tested and showed no signs of memory loss or cognitive decline. The volunteers wore a wristwatch-like device called an actigraph for two weeks. The device measures activity levels, which can then be translated into time asleep and time awake. [Top 10 Spooky Sleep Disorders]
“Other studies that have looked at the relationship between sleep and dementia have generally studied older individuals who are obviously at higher risk of dementia, so I think this study is important because we’re looking at a population that is much younger,” Ju said.
Sleep and dementia
The results revealed that people who spent more of their time in bed tossing and turning rather than sleeping were more likely to show abnormal levels of chemicals that indicate amyloid beta. These chemical markers show up 10 or 15 years before any sign of memory loss or decline, but almost everyone who has them will eventually develop Alzheimer’s if they don’t die of something else first. About 25 percent of the people in the study fell into this “preclinical Alzheimer’s” category.
People who woke up more than average — or more than five times every hour — were also more likely to show signs of amyloid beta accumulation. Participants didn’t necessarily remember these waking periods the next morning, Ju said.
Ju and her colleagues will present their results at the American Academy of Neurology’s 64th annual meeting in New Orleans, which begins April 21. The study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. In the meantime, they’re continuing the sleep studies on more volunteers. In the long term, Ju said, the researchers hope to find out what causes the troubled sleep in people with preclinical Alzheimer’s.
“These are pretty preliminary results, and although they are intriguing and promising, we really need to do longer-term studies to find out which direction this is going,” Ju said.
Too many calories could lead to early signs of Alzheimer’s, preliminary research suggests.
Older people who eat too much are at risk for memory impairment, a new study contends.
People 70 and older who eat between 2,100 and 6,000 calories a day may be at double the risk of these deficits in memory, which can be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, the study authors said.
“Excessive daily caloric consumption may not be brain-health friendly,” said lead researcher Dr. Yonas Geda, an associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz.
“It may sound like a cliche, but we need to be mindful of our daily caloric consumption,” he said. “The bottom line is that eating in moderation, not in excess amount, may be good for your brain.”
The results of the study are due to be presented in April at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, in New Orleans. The data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
For the study, investigators collected data on more than 1,200 people, aged 70 to 89, living in Olmsted County, Minn. Among these people, 163 had been diagnosed with the memory deficits known as “mild cognitive impairment.”
Each person told the researchers how much they ate. One-third ate between 600 and 1,525 calories a day, one-third between 1,526 and 2,142 calories a day, and one-third ate between 2,143 and 6,000 calories a day.
Among those who ate the most, the odds of being diagnosed with the impaired-memory disorder was more than twice that of those who ate the least, the researchers found.
There was no significant increase in risk for memory problems among those in the middle group, the researchers added.
These findings remained the same after taking into account a history of stroke, diabetes, education and other risk factors for memory loss.
“We also looked at BMI and obesity,” Geda said. BMI, or body mass index, is a measurement based on height and weight. “But there was no significant difference between the normal [participants] and mild cognitive impairment when it comes to these two variables,” he said.
Why overeating affects the brain isn’t clear, but “excessive caloric intake may lead to oxidative damage leading to structural changes in the brain,” Geda suggested.
Commenting on the study, Dr. Neelum Aggarwal, an associate professor of neurological sciences at Rush University in Chicago, said that “as the population of the U.S. is aging at a rapid rate, in addition to becoming increasingly obese, physicians are being asked by their elderly patients about their risk for various diseases, specifically cognitive [mental] decline and dementia.”
These findings allow doctors to start the discussion about the links between common healthy living practices — eating a nutritious diet, limiting sugar — to overall brain function, he said.
“This study furthers the discussion of what the possible mechanisms are for the development of cognitive decline and offers strategies for disease prevention through nutrition and caloric restriction,” Aggarwal said.
Another expert, David Loewenstein, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said that “this makes a lot of sense because increased caloric intake is associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome, so it is not at all surprising that increased calories are associated with increased cognitive impairment.” Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors linked to heart disease and other health problems.
“This study suggests that anything that’s good for the heart — like decreased calories — is good for the brain,” Loewenstein added.
While the study found an association between overeating and memory impairment, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.