New research from the Fatty Acid Research Institute (FARI) has suggested that people with a higher Omega-3 DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) level in their blood are 49 per cent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
The Red Blood Cell DHA Is Inversely Associated with Risk of Incident Alzheimer’s Disease and All-Cause Dementia: Framingham Offspring Study suggested that providing extra dietary Omega-3 might slow the development of the disease, saving billions in health care costs.
Researchers examined 1490 dementia-free participants aged 65 years and older, paying close attention to the link between red blood cell (RBC) DHA and Alzheimer’s disease, those with higher levels of DHA in their blood were 49 per cent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease versus those with lower levels.
President of FARI, and senior author of the study, William S. Harris, PhD said the findings lined up with previous studies that had discovered a link between high DHA and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Our study is in line with that of Tan et al. who reported cross-sectional associations with RBC DHA on cognitive performance and brain volume measurements (with higher DHA being associated with beneficial outcomes) in the same cohort as studied here,” Harris said.
“Most interestingly, 15 years ago similar findings were reported by Schaefer et al. in the parents of the individuals who were the focus of this present investigation (i.e., the Original Framingham Heart Study cohort). Schaefer et al. reported that participants in the top quartile of plasma phosphatidylcholine DHA experienced a significant, 47% reduction in the risk of developing all-cause dementia compared with those with lower levels.
“Similar findings a generation apart in a similar genetic pool provide considerable confirmation of this DHA dementia relationship.”
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The latest discovery between DHA levels and reduced Alzheimer’s risk follows a recent “landmark” international study that identified 75 genes associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, including 42 new genes which had not previously been linked to the condition, providing hope for the production of more effective treatments.
As part of the study, researchers analysed the genetic landscape of more than 100,000 people suffering from the condition and compared them with more than 600,000 healthy individuals to look for differences in genetic makeup.
The findings, published in the journal Nature Genetics, provided evidence that inflammation and a person’s immune system can play a part in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Senior Research Fellow at Cardiff University and co-leader of the study, Dr Rebecca Sims said the study “provides exciting new targets for therapeutic intervention and advances our ability to develop algorithms to predict who will develop Alzheimer’s in later life.”
“This study more than doubles the number of identified genes influencing risk for the more common form of Alzheimer’s disease,” she said.
According to Dementia Australia, “Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting up to 70% of all people with dementia” with symptoms including frequent difficulty with memory. loss of enthusiasm in normal everyday activities, and a deterioration in social skills.
In 2022, there are an estimated 487,500 Australians living with dementia.
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