Mediterranean diet: Can it prevent Alzheimer's?

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Mediterranean diet: Can it prevent Alzheimer's?


Is it true that the Mediterranean diet prevents Alzheimer's?

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At this point, it's not clear that it does.

A study published in the Annals of Neurology in June 2006 suggests that people who eat a "Mediterranean" diet — rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, legumes, cereals and fish — have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers examined the health and diet of more than 2,000 people over a four-year period. The average age of study participants was 76. None of the participants had Alzheimer's disease at the start of the study. By the end of the study, 260 participants had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

Over the course of the study, researchers evaluated how closely participants followed a published definition of the Mediterranean diet. Participants who stuck most closely to the diet were less likely to develop Alzheimer's than were participants who didn't follow the diet.

Although this is an intriguing finding, more research is needed to evaluate the potential effects of diet and lifestyle on the risk of Alzheimer's disease. An equally valid interpretation of the findings would be that people who had difficulty following a diet plan are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease and that also makes some sense.

Breast anatomy

Illustration showing the main parts of the breast, including the lymph nodes, lobules and ducts

Each of your breasts contains 15 to 20 lobes of glandular tissue, arranged like the petals of a daisy. The lobes are further divided into smaller lobules that produce milk during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Small ducts conduct the milk to a reservoir that lies just beneath your nipple. Supporting this network is a deeper layer of connective tissue called stroma. DCIS begins in the milk ducts of the breast.

Breast calcifications

Image of breast calcifications on mammogram

Calcifications are small calcium deposits in the breast that show up as white spots on a mammogram. Large, round, well-defined calcifications (left column) are more likely to be noncancerous (benign). Tight clusters of tiny, irregularly shaped calcifications (right column) may indicate cancer.

Core needle biopsy

Illustration showing what happens during core needle biopsy

During a core needle biopsy, your doctor inserts a special needle into the suspicious area of your breast and withdraws several small, solid cores of tissue to send for testing.

Last Updated: 11/21/2006
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