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High Levels of Protein Linked to Brain Shrinkage

h is needed to prove that high homocysteine levels lead to brain atrophy. He pointed out that homocysteine levels did not predict how well participants performed on tests of mental ability.

"If there was indeed increased brain atrophy, it was not severe enough in this otherwise healthy group to significantly impact on functioning," he said. Although Sachdev noted that more research is needed, he said that the current scientific evidence is "persuasive enough for a public awareness campaign about homocysteine levels, especially in those at risk for coronary artery disease, stroke and dementia."

He noted that folic acid supplements can return homocysteine levels to normal. The studies "provide important leads but no proof" that high homocysteine levels lead to mental decline, according to an accompanying editorial by Dr. James F. Toole of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Dr. Clifford R. Jack of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Still, the research is "exciting," Toole said in a news release, since it is possible to lower homocysteine levels with vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid. Toole is currently investigating whether these supplements can reduce the risk of stroke. Another important area of research, according to Toole, is to see whether lowering homocysteine with vitamins will prevent Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.


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