Weight Loss Surgery May Reduce Chances of Alzheimer’s

Many residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities suffer from psychological illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. For these patients, they are supposed to receive a tailored care plan that doctors, nurses and nursing aides help administer to and monitor for their resident patients.

Scientific and medical research continues to search for more definitive answers as to the sources of Alzheimer’s, as it is still unclear just how some people lose their mental capacity later in life, while others do not. Those with Alzheimer’s experience related dementia as well, although dementia can be caused by a host of events, such as a stroke or tumor. As research into Alzheimer’s continues, scientists also seek answers as to how it might be avoided. Research has already shown a correlation between obesity and the risk of Alzheimer’s, as reports note obese individuals are 35% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those of average weight.

New Findings

As a British media outlet, the Telegraph, reported recently, weight loss surgery may actually reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. According to the study, obese women who went through weight loss surgery, called gastric bypass (which involves bariatric surgery), experienced a reversal of characteristics in a certain part of the brain called the posterior cingulate gyrus which is believed to be linked to the development of Alzheimer’s. Simply put, the posterior cingulate gyrus showed decreased activity in that part of the brain approximately six months after the surgery. Apparently obese women prior to the surgery metabolized sugar faster in the relevant area of the brain than women of average weight. Such brain activity was similar to the brain activity of women leaner women. And not only did activity levels in the part of the brain associated with Alzheimer’s decrease, but certain cognitive abilities were even improved, as this article and another from the UK’s Daily Mail also notes better organizational skills and strategizing skills being two such observations in surgery participants months later.

Other aspects of cognitive thinking as well as memory did not show similar improvement, but the findings on organizational skills and the reduction in activity in the Alzheimer’s-linked part of the brain are enough to catch scientists’ attention. Furthermore, the studies were limited in that it examined only 17 women in their 40s, and the subjects were very severely obese, thus it is still unclear how it might affect people of differing levels of obesity such as those who would not qualify or need gastric bypass surgery.

While the limitations of this study obviously merit further review, it is nevertheless an intriguing observation about the correlation between obesity and the propensity for Alzheimer’s or dementia later in life. We have all heard the maxims about the benefits of eating well, exercising sufficiently and overall keeping our weight down as a part of our overall health. These particular findings present yet another reason to do so. As further research and observation is done in this area, we may learn even more about what older folks can do to minimize chances of Alzheimer’s before it becomes too late.

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