Swedish researchers may have found a link between Alzheimer's and fast food.
The results are from the published papers of Susanne Akterin, the lead researcher of the study, at Sweden's Karolinska Institutet.
Interest centers around the study which was Akterin's doctorial thesis. Her research shows mice fed junk food for nine months developed chemical changes in their brains. The same chemical changes can be found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.
Fast Food - A Potential Risk Factor?
The findings also show how a diet rich in fat, sugar, and cholesterol could increase the risk of dementia.
"On examining the brains of these mice, we found a chemical change not unlike that found in the Alzheimer brain," Akterin explained in a statement.
"We now suspect that a high intake of fat and cholesterol in combination with genetic factors. can adversely affect several brain substances, which can be a contributory factor in the development of Alzheimer's," she noted.
In their study, Akterin's team focused on a gene variant called apoE4, found in 15 to 20 percent of people. The gene variant is a known risk factor for Alzheimer's.
The team studied mice genetically engineered to mirror the effect of the variant gene in humans. The same mice were then fed a diet for nine months rich in fat, sugar, and cholesterol, representing the nutritional content of fast food.
Akterin said these mice showed chemical changes in their brains, indicating an abnormal build-up of the protein tau as well as signs that cholesterol in food reduced levels of another protein called Arc involved in memory storage.
Same Chemicals in the Human Brain
The team's conclusion was they suspect a high intake of fat and cholesterol can also affect chemicals in the human brain. This chemical change could contribute to the development of Alzheimer's.
"We now suspect that a high intake of fat and cholesterol in combination with genetic factors, such as apoE4, can adversely affect several brain substances, which can be a contributory factor in the development of Alzheimer's," Akterin said.
Alzheimer's disease is incurable and is the most common form of dementia among older people. It affects the regions of the brain involving thought, memory and language.
Sources: CBN News, Reuters, Physorg, Science Daily