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Medicine Science

Diet of Fast Food and Candy May Cause Alzheimer's 224

lurking_giant sends along a Reuters report on research out of Sweden indicating that a diet rich in fat, sugar, and cholesterol could increase the risk of Alzheimer's, at least in mice. "'On examining the brains of these mice, we found a chemical change not unlike that found in the Alzheimer brain,' [said] Susanne Akterin, a researcher at the Karolinska Institutet's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center... 'We now suspect that a high intake of fat and cholesterol in combination with genetic factors... can adversely affect several brain substances, which can be a contributory factor in the development of Alzheimer's.' ... These mice showed chemical changes in their brains, indicating an abnormal build-up of the protein tau as well as signs that cholesterol in food reduced levels of another protein called Arc involved in memory storage."
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Diet of Fast Food and Candy May Cause Alzheimer's

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  • Obvious? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Sunday November 30, 2008 @09:09AM (#25932545) Homepage

    I'm not surprised that generally mismanaging your body with bad nutrition would make it more likely to get some kind of degenerative disease... While it's nice to find hard evidence I think at least the geek population would be plain dumb so assume otherwise.

    Now if we could only get governments to have some kind of taxes on the bad stuff, and subsidize the good stuff. I'd eat better if I could afford it, quite frankly.

  • Re:Obvious? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kestasjk ( 933987 ) * on Sunday November 30, 2008 @09:23AM (#25932609) Homepage
    Yeah fast food and sugar causes alzheimers, how blindingly obvious is that?

    Actually why is that obvious? Alzheimers is caused by the inability for neurons to clean up after themselves properly, it's not obvious at all and in fact this statistical link might not even be correct because we are currently only theorizing on the mechanism.

    Why the first two replies are commenting on the obviousness of this I have no idea.
  • by Nefarious Wheel ( 628136 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @09:24AM (#25932619) Journal
    Such as refined sugar. It's amazing how hard it is to find a decent lunch in some places that isn't full of sugar. This bothers me because it did lead to a degenerative disease in me -- I'm diabetic. Didn't know any better growing up. We know better now, but there's this amazing momentum to the food industry -- will they change now that everyone knows? Without regulation? I'm not sure.
  • Re:Obvious? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Craevenwulfe ( 611318 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @09:29AM (#25932637)
    Yeah, Coke is WAY cheaper than tap water and mcdonalds/pizza hut cost me so much less than a chicken salad.
  • Re:Obvious? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JamesTRexx ( 675890 ) <marcel...nystrom@@@mail...com> on Sunday November 30, 2008 @09:46AM (#25932741) Homepage Journal
    *tinfoil hat on*
    Don't forget that it's easier to control the sheeple when they're not healthy and strong.
    *tinfoil hat off*
  • Re:speculation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @09:51AM (#25932785)

    The world is already full of FUD, comeback with real prof please.

    You know the difference between "we suspect" and "we conclude"? About 10 million dollars.

    Still looking forward to funding this with your hard-earned tax money?

  • by SoapBox17 ( 1020345 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @10:15AM (#25932901) Homepage
    Sounds like Alzheimer's is going to become the "new cancer" where everything causes Alzheimer's. Can we just fastforward to the part where they admit they don't have a clue what causes it, please?
  • by JaBob ( 1194069 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @10:15AM (#25932903) Journal
    It's sad how many peoples' lives would be better by this little principal. I grew up with a fat parent and fat siblings. I would see the way that people would treat them and didn't want to be treated the same way. Looking for some advice, I ended up getting a subscription for a men's health magazine (also for the humor and the quality of the non-health articles) and over the course of about 10 years or so that I read it, the only thing that seemed to last was 'moderation.' It's funny that it not only works for food, but for exercise, work, hobbies, relationships, money, etc. Never too much or too little of anything. And everyone should have some vices, as long as you keep tabs on them and don't let them run amok, and they don't cause you to neglect any other aspect of your life. It's a dead simple rule to follow too.
  • Re:Obvious? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vintagepc ( 1388833 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @10:19AM (#25932935) Journal

    Stats tend to be quite useless when it comes to these things... Correlation is NOT causation!
    e.g. if I eat an orange every day and my stress level goes down, does not mean the orange is reducing my stress!
    Granted, it's possible, but it would be more reasonable to assume the brief break while I'm eating the orange is what is beneficial.

  • by benj_e ( 614605 ) <walt.eisNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday November 30, 2008 @10:27AM (#25932997) Journal

    The title states that a "Diet of Fast Food and Candy May Cause Alzheimers" and the link states that "diet rich in fat, sugar, and cholesterol could increase the risk of Alzheimer's".

    Yet in the body of the article we get this little gem: "We now suspect that a high intake of fat and cholesterol in combination with genetic factors ... can adversely affect several brain substances...".

    Seems they conveniently left out sugar in the summary.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 30, 2008 @10:56AM (#25933173)

    Well, actually they do research on what causes Alzheimer's because they don't know what causes it. You see, the scheme here is, if you don't know something, you do research, and then eventually you can come to a conclusion that answers your question.

  • by brian0918 ( 638904 ) <brian0918@NoSpam.gmail.com> on Sunday November 30, 2008 @11:48AM (#25933463)
    As you'll find with almost all dietary research, the conclusions are baseless. They fed the mice junk food, and focused on only a couple measures of the contents of the junk food - "fat", cholesterol, sugar. What about the other crap in junk food? What about the nutrients you DON'T find in junk food but that are crucial to life? Do any of those components (or lack thereof) correlate better? Blank out. What types of fat are bad, and what types are good? Trans fat? polyunsaturated? monounsaturated? saturated? long chain, medium chain, or short chain? WHICH TYPES OF FAT?! Blank out.

    Nope, you won't find that here. All fat is assumed to be bad. Other studies show all cholesterol to be bad, or all protein to be bad, or all carbs to be bad, without actually examining in detail the nutrient content of the food to find what component actually correlates the most with their definition of "bad".

    Until a randomized, double blind study is done, the only thing you can conclude from this is that junk food correlates to a certain degree with Alzheimer's. Nothing can be said about "fat", nor about cholesterol, nor about sugar.
  • Re:Obvious? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @12:31PM (#25933767)

    I'd eat better if I could afford it, quite frankly.

    Yes, fast/junk food can be astonishly cheap, but that does not make it good value, especially if it's loaded with stuff that's bad for your health, (typically far too much saturated fats, salt and sugar).

    But you can eat well, and cheap. For example, if you have no time to cook, get a slow cooker. Throw some natural rice and whatever else you fancy into it, (fish, meat, veg.), turn on & go to work. Hot meal waiting for you when you get home in evening. Ingredients will cost less than a hamburger, and most importantly you know what you put into it...

  • by Neuronaut137 ( 1420457 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @12:42PM (#25933841)
    "Correlation is not causation" is probably the most overused and misapplied tag on this site. If there is a control, and there was, then it's not just a correlation. Whether the cause is actually sugar/fat or some other difference between the "bad" diet and the control diet is subject to debate, but there is a cause here, not simply a correlation. And this is rodent research, so there is no such thing as a double blind study.
  • Re:Obvious? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by flynt ( 248848 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @12:55PM (#25933937)

    You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Statistics are, to the contrary, one of the best ways to study things such as these. Your hypothetical experiment is of course ridiculous. However, imagine that we had many subjects *randomly* assigned to eating oranges, and many subjects assigned to eating placebo oranges. They did not know which one they were eating, nor did whoever was evaluating their "stress levels". Now, what if the group assigned to eating oranges had a statistically significant lower stress level? Then our conclusion would be that oranges cause lower stress levels. Now, I did not read this experiment, but if mice were *randomly* assigned to different treatments, a causal conclusion could certainly be warranted.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 30, 2008 @01:17PM (#25934077)

    We've had Alzheimer's long before we had "fast food".

  • Re:Obvious? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by morari ( 1080535 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @01:25PM (#25934121) Journal

    I agree completely. I eat very well, and cheaply, as a vegetarian. All of my food is home-cooked and a large majority of it is even home-grown. I wouldn't be able to afford eating out two or three times a day because of the ridiculous price of processed foods. People aren't cheap, they're just lazy. Not being able to sit down and eat a proper meal with your family also says a lot about our culture in and of itself.

  • Re:Obvious? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 30, 2008 @01:50PM (#25934331)
    GP was perfectly on target. What you are describing is a scientific experiment. Statistics requires no science; it's merely looking for signals in the data. The issue is the quality of the data. Without reading the paper, there's no way to know if they stuffed a bunch of rodents with bad food and reported on their demise or that there was a control group that ate normally.
  • Re:Obvious? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 30, 2008 @01:52PM (#25934359)

    You know what else is high in antioxidants? Fruits and vegetables. Chocolate -- especially the sugar-rich, cocoa-poor blends that the average person can occupy the bargain bin at your local supermarket -- is not a health food. To that extent, "common sense" is indeed correct.

    Though, due to the absurdities of government packaging guidelines, chocolate bars may soon be putting health claims on their wrappers.

    It also buggers common sense to say that a low-soda diet might be depriving anyone of beneficial caffeination. Find me a nutritionist who claims that the benefits of the caffeine in soda outweighs the negative of all those empty calories, and I'll drink a six pack of Mountain Dew, then eat the cans.

    If caffeine does show itself to have enough nutritional value to be included in widely-accepted nutritional guidelines, then it would be far better to get it from coffee or tea, many of which have honest-to-Cthulhu anti-oxidants in them.

    Common sense is a far better guide than you seem to suggest.

  • Re:Obvious? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by An Onerous Coward ( 222037 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @02:25PM (#25934691) Homepage

    Are you saying that, among the three diets you're discussing (the standard American diet (SAD), the broad-stroke, nutritionally recommended diet (BSD), and the genetically individually-tailored, optimal diet (GIT)) that BSD is actually the worst?

    Unless by "some portion of the population" you mean 90-95%. Anyhow, "energy rich" doesn't have to mean nutritionally poor. It doesn't even prevent a vegetarian or vegan diet. Look at the energy content of foods like peanut butter, avacadoes, honey, and olives, just to name a few. You can pudge out easily without resorting to junk food.

    I have to ask, how can evolution account for these bizarre, junk-food-needing mutants, when true junk food has only been a significant force for a couple hundred years? If you're really insisting that "hey, this new-fangled low-junk food diet craze might not be healthy for everybody", I'll have to assume that you're getting kickbacks from McDonald's.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 30, 2008 @02:41PM (#25934829)

    Insightful my ass. Alzheimer's, like cancer, is a condition caused partly by genetic predisposition and partly by long-term assault upon cellular integrity (with things like this it's usually either DNA damage or oxidative damage or both). So there are about a gazillion things which are bad for you. Minimize them, and you minimize your risk. But eliminating one of them without addressing the others isn't going to be some magic shield.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 30, 2008 @03:41PM (#25935539)

    Recipe for good life: Eat the absolute opposite of what AHA says.

  • Re:Interesting (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lyml ( 1200795 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @04:08PM (#25935795)

    Damn, that explains Alzheimer's and cancer and diabetes and stuff over a hundred years ago; it was all the Big Macs and pizza slices and sodas... Oh, WAIT. They didn't have that stuff a hundred years ago. Wow, maybe the Government needs to fund a study on what caused say, Alzheimer's, one hundred years ago if it wasn't a Big Mac.

    That a implies b doesn't mean that c cannot imply b.

    I now hope to never hear this flawed argument again.

  • by philspear ( 1142299 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @04:47PM (#25936139)

    So there remains nothing that is the absolute cause of altzheimers. Fast food joins genetics, aluminum, and all manners of early symptoms in that category.

    It's already been blindingly clear for some time that alzheimers is a complex disease requiring many different factors to produce the disease. A little like cancer, in fact. Lung cancer almost certainly existed before smoking, and non-smokers can get it. Does that mean that smoking does not cause lung cancer? Only to complete simpletons.

    It's important to identify risk factors for alzheimers to be able to prevent the disease and possibly even understand the mechanisms behind the cause.

  • Re:Obvious? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by an unsound mind ( 1419599 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @09:24PM (#25938499)
    And he ate 5000 kcal per day.
    If you eat double what you should according to nutritionists - and hey, last I checked McD also hands out the same info with every meal - it's no wonder your health starts failing.
    You can eat yourself immobile with almost any food, and certainly any food including meat. No fault of McD's there.
  • Re:Obvious? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sydneyfong ( 410107 ) on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:15AM (#25940073) Homepage Journal

    I'd mod you you if I had mod points.

    Except for this tiny tidbit -

    How is healthy food more expensive than bad food?
    Bad food is always processed food. Processing costs money. Always.

    Conspiracy theories aside, not even the evil corporations want you to eat crappy food if healthier food can be made as cheaply. A lot of the commercial processing is to make the food last longer for storage, so that storage and shipment costs can be lower. So that the food products can be produced in bulk. Which means less expensive.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN