London: An expanding waistline along withother middle-age vices such as smoking and drinking not justharm your heart, they could also cause your brain to shrink, anew study has claimed. Conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressurealso take their toll on the grey matter, having an effect onbrainpower just ten years later, the researchers found. Doctors could use the information to pick out patientsat a higher risk of dementia and encourage them to improvetheir lifestyles while there was still time, they said.
The brain shrinks with age, even in the healthiest ofpeople. But in those with diabetes, the hippocampus -- thebrain`s "memory hub" -- shrank more quickly than in thosewithout the condition, the researchers found. The hippocampus also shrivelled faster in smokers. Andthose with high blood pressure were more prone to smalllesions or areas of brain damage, known as "white matterhyper-intensities", they said.High blood pressure was also linked to a more rapidworsening of scores on mental tests, effectively ageing thebrain by up to eight years, the researchers said. Those who were obese in their 50s tended to farepoorly on the mental tests in the study. A previous study of American pensioners found thatobesity ages the brain by up to 16 years. It is thought thathigh levels of fat raise the odds of the arteries clogging up,cutting the flow of blood and oxygen.
It is estimated that half of cases of Alzheimer`scould be prevented by lifestyle changes, such as doing moreexercise, eating healthily and not smoking. People who are overweight at 60 are more than twice aslikely to get dementia by 75. PTI
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