A Strong Mind
Dementia currently affects 18 million people worldwide. The prevalence and incidence of dementia are steadily increasing, affecting more than 5% of over 65 year olds and 20% of those over 80 years of age.
Although not conclusive, scientists have postulated that homocysteine is an independent yet potentially reversible risk factor for dementia, causing nerve damage and physical degeneration of certain areas of the brain.
Alzheimer’s disease is responsible for 55% of all dementia cases. The link between homocysteine and Alzheimer’s was first hypothesised in 1992. Scientists at Oxford University have since discovered exceptionally high blood levels of homocysteine in patients who later had post-mortem confirmation of Alzheimer’s disease.
Results obtained from the on-going Framingham Study were presented at the 4th Conference on Hyperhomocysteinemia, May 2005. The Framingham study, which is following three generations of the population of the town of Framingham in Massachusetts (USA), confirmed the key role homocysteine plays as a predictor of dementia development. Analysis of the data has shown that initial homocysteine levels exceeding 10µmol/L increase the risk of dementia in individuals over 60 years old by 75%. Furthermore, a homocysteine value exceeding 14µmol/L more than doubles the risk of developing Alzheimers.