Navigation Links
Could Having a Bigger Head Help Slow Alzheimer's?
Date:7/12/2010

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- A new study suggests that Alzheimer's disease develops slower in people with bigger heads, perhaps because their larger brains have more cognitive power in reserve.

It's not certain that head size, brain size and the rate of worsening Alzheimer's are linked. But if they are, the research findings could pave the way for individualized treatment for the disease, said study co-author Lindsay Farrer, chief of the genetics program at Boston University School of Medicine.

The ultimate goal is to catch Alzheimer's early and use medications more effectively, Farrer said. "The prevailing view is that most of the drugs that are out there aren't working because they're being given to people when what's happening in the brain is too far along," he said.

A century ago, some scientists believed that the shape of the head held secrets to a person's intelligence and personality -- those views have been since discounted. But today, research suggests that there may be "modest correlations" between brain size and smarts. Still, "there are many other factors that are associated with intelligence," stressed Catherine Roe, a research instructor in neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Nevertheless, there could be a connection between the size of the brain and how many neurons are available to "pick up the slack" when others go dark because of diseases such as Alzheimer's. The new study, published in the July 13 issue of Neurology, explores that possibility.

The study authors examined the medical records of 270 patients with Alzheimer's. They looked for links between brain shrinkage, head circumference -- an indicator of brain size -- and the progression of their disease.

After adjusting their results so they wouldn't be thrown off by factors such as the age and ethnicity of the patients, the researchers found that patients with larger head sizes tended toward less brain atrophy. Also, their dementia was less advanced.

While the difference between larger-headed and smaller-headed people was significant from a statistical point of view, study co-author Farrer said it's impossible to pinpoint exactly what the difference means in terms of how the brain works overall.

The research doesn't confirm that brain size and the speed of the disease are directly connected. But if there is a connection, what's going on? "One possible explanation is that larger heads, and therefore larger brains, contain more nerve cells and connections between cells," reasoned study lead author Dr. Robert Perneczky, a researcher at the Technical University of Munich in Germany.

Therefore, he said, more brain cells have to die before "the threshold is crossed where brain damage leads to cognitive impairment and other symptoms of dementia."

Roe, the neurology instructor, said the study appears to be valid and useful, adding that it suggests that three things are connected: brain size, the shrinking of the brain and the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

Whatever your head size, she said, "the message is that the important thing is trying to keep your brain as healthy as possible throughout life, which hopefully will allow you to cope better with diseases like Alzheimer's if they occur."

More information

There's much more on Alzheimer's disease at the Alzheimer's Association.

SOURCES: Lindsay Farrer, Ph.D., chief, genetics program, Boston University School of Medicine; Robert Perneczky, M.D., researcher, department of psychiatry and psychotherapy, Technical University of Munich, Germany; and Catherine Roe, Ph.D., research instructor in neurology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis; July 13, 2010, Neurology


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Sleep Apnea Could Raise Heart Risks for Older Men
2. Universal HIV testing and immediate treatment could reduce but not eliminate HIV/AIDS epidemic
3. Could Hot Weather Affect Results of a Colorectal Cancer Test?
4. Childhood malnutrition could weaken brain function in elderly
5. Testosterone Gel Could Raise Heart Risks in Frail, Older Men
6. Electronic health records could give rise to more liability risk
7. Patients Could Use More Help Quitting Smoking
8. Fresh findings about chickenpox could lead to better blood tests
9. Drug That Stops Bleeding Could Save Lives
10. New strain of bacteria discovered that could aid in oil spill, other environmental cleanup
11. VARI findings could help diagnose and treat liver cancer
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Could Having a Bigger Head Help Slow Alzheimer's? 
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... 2016 , ... TherapySites, the leading website and ... Tennessee Counseling Association. This new relationship allows TherapySites to continue to extend ... exclusive benefits and promotional offers. , "TCA is extremely excited about this new ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... TopConsumerReviews.com recently awarded their highest five-star rating to ... of individuals in the United States and Canada wear eyeglasses. Once considered to be ... vision and make a fashion statement. Even celebrities use glasses as a way of ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... Pixel Film Studios Released ProSlice Levels, a ... can give their videos a whole new perspective by using the title layers ... Film Studios. , ProSlice Levels contains over 30 Different presets to choose from. ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... ... have been diagnosed with endometriosis. These women need a treatment plan to not ... comprehensive approach that can help for preservation of fertility and ultimately achieving a ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... FL (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... The temporary closing of Bruton Memorial ... Plant City Observer , brings up a new, often overlooked aspect of head lice: the ... closing for fumigation is not a common occurrence, but a necessary one in the event ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... ALEXANDRIA, Va. , June 24, 2016 ... a set of recommendations that would allow ... information (HCEI) with entities that make formulary and coverage ... determine the "value" of new medicines. The ... that does not appear on the drug label, a ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 2016 Research and Markets has announced ... Diagnostic Tests" report to their offering. ... The World Market for Companion Diagnostics covers ... Market analysis in the report includes the following: ... Diagnostic Kits) by Region (N. America, EU, ROW), 2015-2020 ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , Belgium , June 24, ... VNRX), today announced the appointment of Dr. ... Directors as a Non-Executive Director, effective June 23, ... Audit, Compensation and Nominations and Governance Committees.  As ... Futcher will provide independent expertise and strategic counsel ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: