Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Could My Body Fat Lead to Dementia?

One of the great fears we all have is to lose our mental ability as we grow old. No one wants to end their life with dementia (such as Alzheimer's Disease). We all should be highly motivated to do things to avoid this tragic outcome. We already know that regular exercise is good for the mind and may reduce the risk of dementia. Recent evidence shows that the use of statin medications to lower cholesterol may help reduce dementia risk. Now we have evidence that the roll of fat around your waist may be a marker for increased dementia risk.

The University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter (February, 2010) reports on a study published in the journal Neurology that followed 1500 Swedish women for 30 years. Those with more fat around the waist were twice as likely to have dementia by age 70 compared with thinner women. A 2008 study from Kaiser Permanente that included men and women showed similar results.

The fat around the waist is a better marker for internal fat than the fat around the hips. If a woman has a waist of 35 inches or greater, and a man a waist of 40 inches or greater, that is evidence of increased cardiovascular risk and dementia risk. The leaner the better as we get older.

Losing this fat is hard work. It requires an excellent diet and regular physical activity. Medications should be used if needed. A healthy body and mind in the senior years cannot be taken for granted. We may be lucky with good genes, but we all must live a healthy lifestyle in order to earn our good health later in life.