January is Alzheimer Awareness Month. Two experts from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) are available to comment on the effects of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and ongoing research focusing on risk factors and potential cures. The availability of our experts coincides with the 2007 "Heads Up for Healthier Brains" campaign of the Alzheimer Society of Canada.
More than 280,000 Canadians aged 65 and over have AD. As populations around the world continue to age, AD will become even more prevalent. By 2031, more than 750,000 Canadians are expected to have AD and related dementias.
"Aside from its impacts on those who suffer from it, AD can be a significant burden for families and for the health care system," says Dr. Anne Martin-Matthews, based in Vancouver and Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Aging (CIHR-IA). "CIHR recently launched RAPID (Research to Action Program In Dementia), an initiative which seeks to accelerate the translation of research about AD and dementia by linking researchers with communities."
"Almost 25 per cent of Canadians have someone with AD in their family. Research into the causes of, or solutions to AD is significant as research may hold the key to unlocking new means of preventing, treating and curing it," says Dr. Rťmi Quirion, based in Montreal and Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction (CIHR-INMHA).
Recent studies have highlighted several life style risk factors for the development of AD. Does the long-term intake of caffeine reduce the risk of AD? Does physical activity have a role to play in staving off the risk of AD? What about the so-called Mediterranean diet which is high in olive oil and said to be protective against age-related memory problems? Some studies say eating fish just two to three times a week may also protect your brain as you age. And others have shown that fruits, vegetables and juices have a role to play in reducing risk.