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Study of nutrition, Alzheimer's links hampered by research approach
Date:1/21/2011

CORVALLIS, Ore. Research is trying to determine whether Alzheimer's disease might be slowed or prevented with nutritional approaches, but a new study suggests those efforts could be improved by use of nutrient "biomarkers" to objectively assess the nutrient status of elderly people at risk for dementia.

The traditional approach, which primarily relies on self-reported dietary surveys, asks people to remember what they have eaten. Such surveys don't consider two common problems in elderly populations the effect that memory impairment has on recall of their diet, or digestive issues that could affect the absorption of nutrients.

This issue is of particular concern, experts say, because age is the primary risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, and the upcoming wave of baby boomers and people 85 years and older will soon place many more people at risk for dementia.

"Dietary and nutritional studies have yielded some intriguing results, but they are inconsistent," said Emily Ho, an associate professor of nutrition at Oregon State University, co-author of the study, and principal investigator with OSU's Linus Pauling Institute.

"If we are going to determine with scientific accuracy whether one or another nutritional approach to preventing dementia may have value, we must have methods that accurately reflect the nutritional status of patients," Ho said. "The gold standard to assess nutritional status should be biomarkers based on blood tests."

The research was just published in Alzheimer's Disease and Associated Disorders, in work supported by the National Institutes of Health. The study was led by Dr. Gene Bowman, a nutrition and aging researcher at Oregon Health and Science University, in collaboration with OSU researchers.

Prevention strategies for Alzehimer's disease are "becoming more feasible," researchers said, because scientists are beginning to understand what populations are at high risk for develop
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Contact: Emily Ho
emily.ho@oregonstate.edu
541-737-9559
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

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