Constant Stress Can Increase Risk For Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease

Chronic stress can lead to Alzheimer's
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Constantly being harassed or stressed out could accelerate the risk for dementia and Alzheimer's disease, claimed a new study.

The lead researcher, Sara Bengtsson, published her thesis at Umeå University in Sweden and found that the proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease, beta amyloids, were present at high levels while certain stress hormones in the brain called Allopregnanolon were also elevated during periods of stress in mice models.

Beta amyloids are well-known for depositing plaques in Alzheimer's victims and accumulate as the disease progresses.

Alzheimer's Association says that the disease is the most prevalent form of dementia and represents 50 to 80 percent of cases of dementia today.

Bengtsson showed the mice experience more stress had more amyloids built up, impairing the brain synapses and connections between nerve cells that ultimately are the cause of memory loss and communication skills seen in Alzheimer's patients.

Though only a postgraduate student, Bengtsson is defending her study, which contrasts prior findings about Allopregnanolon that showed the hormone promoted regeneration of nerve cells and even reduced amyloid beta build-up.

Other researchers are strongly emphasizing the use of mice models, not humans in Bengtsson's study.

"Some research has already highlighted a possible link between chronic stress, cognitive decline and the development of Alzheimer's, and further study in people is needed to fully investigate these links," Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, told The Daily Mail. "If we can better understand the risk factors for Alzheimer's we can also empower people to make lifestyle changes to reduce their risk."

According to Science Daily, Bengtsson only completed her Master's in medicine and major in biomedicine at Umeå University, Sweden in 2008.  She's currently a postgraduate student at the university's department of clinical sciences, division of obstetrics and gynecology.

In another recent study that was supported by NIH, researchers found a link between beta amyloids and the butylrcholinesterase gene.  This gene is key to breaking down acetylcholine neurotransmitter that is severely depleted during the onset of Alzheimer's.

Bengtsson is scheduled to present her thesis about the stress link to Alzheimer's disease on March 22.

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