Does walking reduce risk of dementia? Study seems to say yes

dementia walking

People are afraid of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease since we really don’t understand the diseases very well. But there’s some good news — a recent paper stated that walking could reduce the risk of dementia — could it be that simple?

As this feathered dinosaur is getting on in years, I worry about declining executive function. So far, I’m doing well. And I walk between 10 to 20 thousand steps every day for the past decade, so this type of science is personally interesting.

Like I always do, I’m going to present the key findings of the peer-reviewed paper, then tell you what I think about the article. So let’s get to it.

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Herpes zoster vaccine and dementia — is there a surprising link?

herpes zoster dementia

I generally wouldn’t write about herpes zoster and dementia, which recently appeared in a peer-reviewed article. Such a topic is mostly outside of my interest area. Then a thought hit my reptilian brain — anti-vaxxers might use this information to claim that the shingles vaccine, which prevents herpes zoster (the more formal name for shingles), might increase the risk of dementia.

So, this article is here just in case you run into that pathetic argument. In no way would I advocate not getting the shingles vaccine because of its supposed relationship with dementia.

Let’s take a look at this new article and how we should look at whether the herpes zoster vaccine and dementia might be related.

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Viagra may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease — no, not a joke

viagra alzheimer's disease

Now for something completely different — a newly published peer-reviewed article shows that Viagra may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Yes, you read that right, sildenafil (brand names of Viagra or Revatio) users have a substantially lower risk of subsequent diagnoses for dementia.

And, as you know, I’m a proponent of biological plausibility — there appear to be physiological and biochemical reasons why Viagra can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

So, let’s take a look at how sildenafil works (no, it’s not about sex), the paper itself, and the plausible mechanisms that may allow it to work. And yes, I’m going to try to avoid the jokes, but you are more than welcome to place them in the comments!

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Inflammatory foods and dementia – there may be a link

inflammatory foods dementia

I know you want me to write about COVID-19 vaccines, but a new study seems to show a link between inflammatory foods and dementia. And I thought it might be of interest to my readers.

I’m not a big fan of nutrition studies for reasons that I’ll explain – they are generally hard to interpret, but this one might show us that foods with a higher inflammatory potential are tied to an increased risk of dementia.

Let’s take a look at what was the researchers found.

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Canola oil causes Alzheimer’s disease? Dubious evidence

Canola oil causes Alzheimer's disease

Food fads make me want to scream, cry, and hide in a cabin in the mountains. MSG is safe. And high fructose corn syrup is just an awful name for sugar. And only a small number of people have a real gluten sensitivity. And now a published article has caused the internet to explode with the trope that canola oil causes Alzheimer’s disease.

This new internet meme is based on a peer-reviewed article published in a real journal. But as I have written time and again, just because an article seems like it has sterling credentials, it doesn’t mean the article is above criticism. We’ll get to this article below.

As expected, all of the usual suspects in the pseudoscience world have jumped on board with clickbait headlines like, “Scientists finally issue warning against canola oil: Study reveals it is detrimental to brain health, contributes to dementia, causes weight gain.” I always find it ironic when a pseudoscience-pushing website believes in scientists when it supports their belief.

Of course, we need to take a look at this whole issue. Here’s my spoiler alert (but please read the whole article) – there is little evidence that canola oil causes Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or dementia. You can use it safely. Continue reading “Canola oil causes Alzheimer’s disease? Dubious evidence”

Diet soda increases risk of stroke and dementia – does it?

diet soda increases risk

Two recent studies published in respected journals seem to indicate that diet soda increases risk of stroke and dementia. Not to give a free pass to sugary drinks, one of the studies seemed to indicate that either artificially sweetened or sugar filled drinks might be linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Typical of the popular press and your average website, they accept the findings of these studies without any serious critique of these studies. US News blares a headline that says, “Health buzz: drinking diet soda linked to stroke, dementia risk, study says.” Thankfully, many of the headlines use the qualifier “may be linked,” but I’m afraid most people will overlook that nuanced discussion of these studies.

But what does the actual science say? Do these studies provide us with robust evidence that cutting out diet soda will suddenly decrease our risk of stroke, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease? Probably not, but let’s see what this data actually tells us.

 

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Ginkgo biloba and the brain–myth vs. science

ginkgo-health-benefits-bullshitGinkgo biloba is actually an interesting plant because it has been relatively unchanged for nearly 270 million years. It is considered a living fossil, an informal term used for species like G. biloba that appear to be the same as a species otherwise only known from fossils and which has no close living relatives. The genus Ginkgo was fairly widely distributed until about 100 million years ago. It slowly disappeared from the fossil record until it was found only in one small part of China about 5 million years ago, where it is found today.  

The tree is native to China and is known to have been widely cultivated early in human history. It is used as a food source by various Asian cultures, with the Chinese eating the meaty gametophytes and the Japanese the whole seed. Unfortunately, the seed also contains a chemical, 4′-O-methylpyridoxine, that can be poisonous if consumed in a sufficiently large enough quantity.  Continue reading “Ginkgo biloba and the brain–myth vs. science”