Low BMI Linked to Alzheimer’s Risk

By Rebecca Jones

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia affecting 1 in 8 Americans over the age of 65. According to a new study there may be a new factor than may raise your risk for developing Alzheimer’s: a low BMI.

According to the latest research published in the November 22 issue of Neurology, Alzheimer’s biomarkers were more common is people with a low BMI than in their overweight counterparts.

To conduct their study, researchers assembled 506 healthy adults and used tests, including brain imaging techniques and cerebrospinal fluid tests, to look for brain plaques and other biomarkers that are present long before symptoms of Alzheimer’s appear. They found these biomarkers in 85% of participants with a BMI below 25 and only 48% of overweight participants.

Researchers are unsure of the explanation for this link especially considering that obesity is also considered a risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s. One possible explanation is that damage to the hypothalamus, which regulates hunger and metabolism, could be involved. Because the brain is responsible for regulating hunger, satiety and blood flow it is possible that a disease in the brain could affect other aspects of bodily function such as weight loss and appetite.

While a low BMI is the latest risk factor for Alzheimer’s to be discovered it is not the only one. Here are a few of the other factors that could raise your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

While the connection is still not clearly understood, research indicates that there is a link between type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. The most likely explanation is that the damage diabetes causes to blood vessels increases the chance of cognitive decline which can lead to Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.

Lifelong Education and Social Involvement
Researchers have also found a link between a person’s mental and social stimulation and their risk of developing Alzheimer’s. While they are unable to explain the link, researchers believe that increased brain activity helps develop cell-to-cell connections which in turn protect the brain against the brain changes brought on by Alzheimer’s.

research indicates that the same health factors that put you at risk for heart disease also put you at risk for Alzheimer’s. Obesity, high blood pressure, lack of exercise, smoking and high cholesterol have all been linked to Alzheimer’s risk possibly because of the damage the can cause to blood vessels in the brain.