|A votre sante!||May. 5, 2007|
|Provided by: Sun Media|
|Written by: DOCTOR GIFFORD-JONES|
|Study: A tipple may reduce risk of Alzheimer's|
What can you do to decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD)? It's a question that has eluded scientists for years.
Some researchers believe that Alzheimer's is due to an excessive amount of aluminum in the brain and we should try to decrease its intake. But would a glass of Sauvignon each day stop the cerebral ravage of this disease?
A study directed by Dr. Jun Wang and his colleagues was reported recently in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. It may help to put a cork on what's causing AD.
Researchers divided the female mice into three groups. One group had its drinking water spiked with Cabernet Sauvignon from California-grown grapes. Another group had ethanol added to its drinking water. And the third and unlucky group, teetotalers, had to survive on plain drinking water.
What happened next separates female mice from the rest of us. They were all allowed to drink as much of these fluids as they wished during the next seven months. But according to the researchers, none became drunk.
Seven months later, the testing started. They were placed in a maze. Lovers of Cabernet Sauvignon will be glad to hear this group performed the best. In fact, even the ethanol group fared no better than teetotalers in finding the exit.
Next, the escape route was made tougher. Again there was good news for those who enjoy Cabernet Sauvignon. Mice drinking the wine-spiked water were speedier to adapt to this change.
At this point, the researchers checked the brains of all three groups for signs of amyloid-beta protein. The mice who imbibed Cabernet Sauvignon had the lowest levels of this protein.
In the final experiment, Dr. Wang doused the building blocks of amyloid-beta protein with Cabernet Sauvignon at levels reaching human consumption. But instead of making amyloid-beta, these chemical building blocks formed a different type of protein.
Previous studies have suggested that patients with AD who consume moderate amounts of red wine daily function better mentally than a teetotaler with AD. However, this is the first study to use red wine specifically.
Before you become too enthusiastic about pouring yourself a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, you need to know that Dutch scientists also carried out animal studies to analyze the effect of alcohol on the brain. They too concluded that alcohol had a beneficial effect but that the source of alcohol made no difference.
So what's in alcohol or Cabernet Sauvignon that may have a positive effect on brain function? Cabernet Sauvignon contains a variety of polyphenol compounds such as phenolic acid, flavonoids, anthocyanins and resveratrol. However, it's still unclear how these compounds are beneficial against AD.
Dutch researchers showed that light to moderate alcohol consumption stimulated the release of acetylcholine which aids in the transmission of nervous stimuli. This occurs in the hippocampus, a part of the brain essential to many aspects of learning and memory. Improved vascular supply to the brain may also be a factor in easing the rate of mental decline. We know alcohol dilates blood vessels and increases HDL, which helps to fight atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries).
Studies also show moderate drinkers live longer than teetotalers or excessive drinkers. It's reasonable to assume this longevity affects the brain.
I'm giving these researchers the benefit of the doubt as I enjoy a cocktail before dinner. The longer I practice medicine the more I'm convinced a moderate consumption of alcohol is the best medicine man has invented.
After all, Jesus turned water into wine -- he must have had a good reason.
|MORE COLUMNS BY DOCTOR GIFFORD-JONES|