Donuts, flaky pastries, and cakes can be tasty, but eating some of them may come at a price. Eating foods high in trans fats may greatly increase your risk of Alzheimer's and other types of dementia, per the results of a new study in the journal Neurology.
For 10 years researchers followed 1,600 Japanese men and women aged 60 and older who did not have dementia. Those who had the highest blood levels of trans fats had a 75% higher risk of developing Alzheimer's and other types of dementia over that time period compared to those who had the lowest levels, according to the study.
What Increases Alzheimer's Risk?Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disease that causes memory impairment and eventually disturbances in planning, reasoning, language, and perception, according to MedicineNet author Howard Crystal, MD.
Increasing age is the main risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, Dr. Crystal said. Approximately 15% of people over the age of 65 have the condition, but that number increases to 50% of people over the age of 85. Alzheimer's rates in the U.S. are skyrocketing, with an estimated 13.8 million people in the U.S. having the condition by 2050, Dr. Crystal said.
Alzheimer's risk also increases with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, genetics, history of traumatic brain injury, Down syndrome, and possibly elevated blood cholesterol, according to Dr. Crystal.
Progressive SymptomsAlzheimer's disease advances through progressive stages with increasingly more severe symptoms, according to MedicineNet's Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD. Memory problems, slight personality changes, and apathy are typical symptoms in the early stages of the disease. In moderate stages, people may feel depressed, withdrawn, and have trouble planning ahead. Advanced stages may cause people to suffer from hallucinations, they may need constant monitoring, and they may not be able to talk or respond rationally.
"There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, but treatments may help reduce or slow the development of the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease," Dr. Davis said.
As high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease are risk factors for Alzheimer's, it makes sense to live a healthy lifestyle to reduce your risk of these conditions. Eat a sensible diet, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and take medications as prescribed by your doctor.
According to the American Heart Association, trans fats increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The AHA recommends limiting your intake of trans fats by avoiding baked goods and processed foods that have "partially hydrogenated oils" listed on the label.