Controversial Study on Body Weight and Development of Dementia

DementiaAs the Baby Boomers age and develop more chronic diseases there is a predicted epidemic of cognitive dysfunction and dementia expected to occur. At the same time the Baby Boomer retirement explosion is occurring the nations of the world are experiencing a significant increase in obesity and its health related problems. In the April 10th issue of The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology researchers in Great Britain published a paper suggesting that being overweight might be more protective against the development of dementia than being at a normal weight or underweight. In fact they felt that underweight individuals having a Body Mass Index of < 20 had a far higher risk of developing dementia than normal weight individuals or obese individuals (BMI > 30). The data was collected and analyzed from the United Kingdom Clinical Practice Research Datalink by Nawab Qizilbash, MSc, DPhil, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The study looked at records of people aged 40 or older between 1992 and 2007.

The author concluded that “If increased weight in midlife is protective against dementia, the reasons for this inverse relationship are unclear at present.” Previous smaller studies on the issue suggested just the opposite that being overweight in midlife was a risk factor for developing dementia. Deborah Gustafson,, PhD, from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York cautioned that these results are certainly not the “final word” on the topic.

As a clinician we always advise patients to live a life and eat a diet based on moderation. The study did not make it clear if the protective effect of being overweight extended to the massively obese or not. What is clear is that being at an extreme seems deleterious, while being at normal body weight or mildly overweight may be protective.

Breath Test For Gastric Cancer

CancerHossam Haick, PhD, of the department of Chemical Engineering and Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute, Technion- Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel announced that they have developed a breath test for the detection of stomach cancer and precancerous lesions. The announcement was noted in Medpage Today, an online journal, and published in the Journal “Gut.” “Volatile organic compound marker detection based nonarray technology allows gastric cancer to be detected with high accuracy in a Caucasian population. The technology allows high-risk precancerous lesions to be detected via exhaled breath “even with the confounding factors of patient smoking, Heliobacter Pylori infection and alcohol use. It is extremely difficult to diagnose gastric cancer before an individual is symptomatic. Except for Japan and South Korea, almost no health care systems screen for the presence of gastric cancer in their population. These countries traditionally have very high rates of gastric cancer so they screen for it routinely in adults using upper endoscopy and imaging techniques.

“The future of cancer prevention relies on timely recognition and surveillance of precancerous lesions as well as early detection of the cancer, making higher survival rates and lower healthcare costs per patient achievable,” says Dr. Haick. “Detection of precancerous lesions would allow surveillance to be performed, making early detection of the transformation to cancer possible.” The publication in “Gut” looked at precancerous lesions but the goal is to additionally use this technique to follow a diseases progress and detect potential relapses.

At the current time this test is experimental, but large scale human testing is now underway in Europe. Hopefully a commercially available product will be released in the next few years.