Bret S. Stetka, MD


June 24, 2013

In This Article

Other Approaches and Conclusions

Small's group is running a trial looking at whether curcumin, an anti-inflammatory compound found in turmeric, slows amyloid and tau build-up in the brain. Areas with turmeric and curry-heavy diets such as India have a lower rate of AD. Another study at UCLA is looking at pomegranate extract, as daily consumption is associated with improved verbal memory.

Other lifestyle approaches that may benefit cognition include avoiding activities potentially traumatic to the head, avoiding smoking, having a positive outlook, and appropriate treatment of age-related illnesses like hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. Head trauma in particular is a major focus of study as progressive cognitive and psychiatric dysfunction among athletes due to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has become increasingly evident. In a study published this year,[33] Small's group looked at FDDNP binding patterns in the brains of retired NFL players. Tau accumulations were found in a pattern similar to that seen in CTE on autopsy, suggesting a potential screen for the condition.

In closing, Small returned to the question, "So can we control our brain health and prevent Alzheimer's disease? If you think of the term 'prevention' as meaning 'cure,' the answer is no. But if we set a more modest goal of forestalling symptoms, I think the evidence suggests that we can," Small concluded, citing the various healthy lifestyle and compensatory strategies he'd spent the last hour reviewing.

He then asked the audience if they could remember the 8 words he'd presented earlier based on their story. One brave psychiatrist approached the microphone: "I was at the beach last week in La Jolla when a UCLA Alzheimer's disease professor appeared riding a horse and holding his teddy bear transitional object. He revealed that there was one additional finding to the nun study, which included the fact that if people hang from palm trees while smoking a cigar wrapped with spaghetti, they have an excellent chance of surviving from Alzheimer's." [Applause]


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