New findings reported at World Alzheimer Congress 2000 suggest that eating high amounts of vegetables, vitamin E, and vitamin C is associated with lower risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Marianne J. Engelhart, M.D., and her colleagues at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, collected data between 1990 and 1993 on the dietary habits of 5,395 men and women aged 55 and over who were free of dementia. Study participants were reexamined in 1993-1994 and 1997-1999. In addition, the cohort was continuously monitored for incident dementia or mortality.
People who took part in the study completed questionnaires about their dietary habits and were interviewed by dietitians.A total of 146 participants developed Alzheimer’s disease and 29 developed vascular dementia during the follow-up period of six years.
The researchers found that on average, people who remained free from either form of dementia had consumed higher amounts of beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and vegetables than the people in the study who developed Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers found no association between the risk of dementia and consumption of flavonoids or fruit.
The investigators also noted that in this study, family history or the presence of a genetic marker called the ApoE4 allele did not alter their findings. Presence of the ApoE4 allele is considered a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
But the researchers did acknowledge that other factors also may play a role in the development of dementia. “Age is one of the major risk factors for dementia,” said Engelhart, a member of the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Erasmus Medical Center. “The people in this study who developed dementia were older at baseline than the individuals who did not develop dementia. In addition, approximately 23 percent of the study population smoked at the time of entry into the study and about 43 percent were former smokers. Adjustment for other possible risk factors for dementia did not change the results.”
“This is an interesting study that shows a relationship between anti-oxidants and dementia,” says Bill Thies, Ph.D., vice president of medical and scientific affairs for the Alzheimer’s Association (U.S.A.). “Further research needs to be done before anyone can recommend consuming particular levels of anti-oxidants to protect against Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. A balanced diet that includes vegetables has broad health benefits.”
Source: World Alzheimer Congress 2000