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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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  • by macraig ( 621737 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [giarc.a.kram]> on Sunday November 30, 2008 @09:51AM (#25932781)

    Both my parents are Type II diabetic... meaning it wasn't hereditary. Been there, seen that, hoping it skips a generation.

    That's not to say my dietary habits are perfect; I have an aggressive sweet tooth and love fatty junk like cookies, chips, and ice cream (Breyer's Natural Vanilla!), but I'm very conscious of it. I'm within 15 pounds of my ideal 150 weight, and never more than 40 past it. In my twenties I had 5% body fat and a 43 pulse (from cycling and hiking). Contrast that with my father who even in his early twenties, according to my uncle, would binge on pastries and crap, starve himself for a day or two, then go right back to eating more junk. I grew up watching him stand in the kitchen eating peanut butter mixed with honey! He was always obese, not surprisingly.

    I think another cliche applies here, in my case: "sins of the father". Trying not to repeat them....

  • by value_added ( 719364 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @10:19AM (#25932933)

    The "eggs are bad" example is recent history. A better example is margarine being touted as the healthy (and tasty) alternative to butter. Some of us knew better, of course, but the margarine evil lasted a few generations.

  • Re:Obvious? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by six025 ( 714064 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @11:01AM (#25933207)

    It certainly is not "obvious'. Also, "fast food and candy" are attributes more likely associated with recent generations. Degenerative brain diseases typically affect older people who are much less likely to have lived that kind of lifestyle to a level that is impacting significantly on their health.

    My aunty, at 72 years old, and slowly but surely is descending towards full Alzheimer's disease, yet her lifetime diet could hardly be considered "junk food". It was more like the typical diet of the working classes of her generation: "meat and three veg". Later in life (the last 15 years) she lived in the country (very clean air), took regular walks, and ate fresh vegetables from the garden every day.

    Diet is very important for many reasons, but I don't think science will find a single smoking gun for these types of brain diseases. Rather there will be a number of highly complex interrelating factors that accumulate over a lifetime, some might even result from subtle behavioural issues, and some will be passed on in genetic code also.


  • Re:Obvious? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hoi Polloi ( 522990 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @11:57AM (#25933525) Journal

    It is obvious? Really? Please tell that to my mother who is developing it after a lifetime of never eating sugar (genetic diabetes) and eating like a bird.

    People love to jump to conclusions based on personal biases and zero evidence.

  • bzzzzzzt (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 30, 2008 @11:58AM (#25933533)

    The article points out, they were fed "fast food", which contains things other than fat and cholesterol. Fast food is also cooked differently than other foods. Just blindly saying "fast food" was the cause is misleading at best. It is a known fact that fast food contains chemicals not normally found in other foods. It is also a known fact that how food is cooked can change it's chemical composition dramatically, making normally healthy food toxic. Just another "study" where there is a poor control group and general assumption of "it's the fat" not taking into account other factors or combination of factors. It's a study which uses only that data they want to prove an EMOTION/POLITICAL MOTIVATION towards fast food in general. It really doesn't find the real cause.

    As to the sugar comments, the real problem is not sugar in general. It is corn syrup, a chemically produced/altered sugar. It goes toward my first point. Just because it's similar doesn't make it the same.

    We need to get corn syrup, melamine, and all the other nasty chemicals/chemically produced ingredients out of the food supply. "Small quantities" are not safe. We also need to quit using the "food pyramid" originally designed for the proper food intake of cattle not people. We need to quit being "sheeple".

  • Re:Obvious? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by An Onerous Coward ( 222037 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @02:44PM (#25934865) Homepage

    I think it would be sufficient to eliminate the existing subsidies for "the bad stuff". Current agricultural policy rewards vast overproduction of grain, especially corn. That grain has to go somewhere, because it represents way more calories than 300M people need. Grain can be converted into other foodstuffs, like meat, dairy, and alcohol, which are generally bad for us in the quantities we Americans consume. About half the corn we produce goes to feeding animals that will eventually feed us.

    Since the demand for actual corn is still inadequate for consuming the amount of corn we produce, a lot of it gets turned into other products, like high fructose corn syrup, and ethanol for fuel. I don't see how either of those are doing us much good.

    Eliminate the subsidies on corn, starting with the subsidies for the corporate mega-farms. Then require huge factory farms to abide by the same pollution regulations as any other industry. Finally, make the meat farms pay for their own water. Do these three things, and I can virtually guarantee that Americans will start getting slimmer and healthier. I would want to see all those things happen before we consider a junk food tax.

  • Re:Obvious? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Sunday November 30, 2008 @04:15PM (#25935859) Homepage

    Sadly, the price on vegetables in Finland where I live is such, that it's a hell of a lot more expensive to go on a healthy diet. In fact, a chicken salad does indeed cost more than a McMeal, at least for the same energy content.

  • by An Onerous Coward ( 222037 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @05:27PM (#25936529) Homepage

    Why is it that, whenever the media gets a hold of a single research paper, then draws wildly inaccurate or overly broad conclusions, people accuse the study of misinforming the public? From the story:

    "All in all, the results give some indication of how Alzheimer's can be prevented, but more research in this field needs to be done before proper advice can be passed on to the general public," she said.

    You wrongly claim that the researchers "fed the mice junk food." What they actually fed them was a high-fat, high-sugar diet that bears some
    nutritional similarity to a junk food diet. Again, from the story:

    She studied mice genetically engineered to mimic the effect of the variant gene in humans, and which were fed a diet rich in fat, sugar and cholesterol for nine months -- meals representing the nutritional content of fast food.

    Had they actually been feeding the critters junk food, including a hodge-podge of chemicals found nowhere in nature, then you could criticize the study for a lack of controls. I know that it's your inalienable right as a member of forum Slashdot to criticize the results of a study without

    A) understanding how the study was conducted, or

    B) understanding what the researchers are claiming, or

    C) ever letting cross your mind the thought that maybe, just maybe, the people who make livings designing research experiments might have been smart enough to have accounted for the potentially confounding factors that you -- the untrained layman -- immediately spotted.

    However, I still retain the right to find it annoying as hell.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspartame_controversy [wikipedia.org]

    I drink a ton of diet tea myself, and its all about weighing risks:

    1) Eat a bunch of sugar and you get the terrible pains in old age that obesity and diabetes cause.

    2) Eat a bunch of vegetables and you get viruses from the water used to irrigate them.

    3) Eat a bunch of red meat and maybe get bowel problems.

    4) Eat a bunch of chicken and contribute to the destruction of your environment due to a cavalcade of chicken shit.

    5) Eat a bullet and dream without worry.

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"