Report Finds Risks of Developing Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases can be Dramatically Reduced

Friday, October 24, 2008 General News
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BOSTON, Oct. 23 Environmental factors are key drivers inAlzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, according to the authors of a newreport, "Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging", released today.

Importantly, the report demonstrates that the risks for Alzheimer's andParkinson's can be dramatically reduced.

It offers the most comprehensive review of the currently availableresearch on the lifetime influences of environmental factors on Alzheimer'sand Parkinson's diseases, two of the most common degenerative diseases of thebrain. These influences include common dietary patterns, toxic chemicalexposures, inadequate exercise, socio-economic stress and other factors. Theseinfluences can begin in the womb and continue throughout life, setting thestage for the later development of neurodegenerative as well as other chronicdiseases.

In addition, the report describes the substantial emerging evidence that,collectively, these environmental factors alter biochemical pathways at thecellular and subcellular levels. These alterations fuel Alzheimer's andParkinson's diseases, as well as other chronic illnesses referred to in thereport as the "Western disease cluster" -- diabetes, obesity, cardiovasculardisease and metabolic syndrome. Each of these diseases in turn increases therisk of Alzheimer's disease. This collection of diseases is being driven bydramatic alterations over the past 50 to 100 years in the U.S. food supply, anincreasingly sedentary lifestyle, and exposure to toxic chemicals.

The full report, "Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging", is publishedjointly by Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Scienceand Environmental Health Network and is available online .

The report authors provide recommendations so that individuals, families,communities, and societies can take action at all levels and move towardshealthy living and healthy aging. This is especially important because thepopulation over the age of 65, which is highly vulnerable to chronic disease,is expected to nearly double in the U.S. by 2030 -- from about 38 million toover 71 million. With that increase will come a dramatic escalation of chronicdiseases unless steps are taken now to reduce the risks. Among theserecommendations are:

In addition to these societal recommendations, the report containsrecommendations for actions for healthy living and healthy aging thatindividuals can take to reduce the risks for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, andother diseases of the Western disease cluster. These include specificrecommendations relating to:

On Thursday, October 23, at 1:00 p.m. ET / 10:00 a.m. PT, the co-authorswill conduct a media briefing call to discuss the findings and recommendationsin the "Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging" report. Members of the mediacan access the media briefing call by dialing (877) 358-8255 (U.S./Canada) andusing pass code 1619147#.-- Increase sustainable, diversified and local alternatives to industrial farming -- to improve the nutritional value of food, cut down on harmful content, ensure access to healthy food, and lessen serious damage to the environment; -- Regulatory reforms of chemical policy that help prevent hazardous toxic exposures from air, water, food, and other consumer products; business policy changes that give preference to purchasing and using products made of safer chemicals; -- Health care policy changes that increase the focus on disease prevention and ensure equitable and accessible health care for all; and, -- An energy policy that reduces toxic emissions, promotes conservation and efficiency, curtails dependence on fossil fuels, and encourages more physical activity.

SOURCE Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility

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