Today's Medical Fact
Eating breakfast helps to burn calories throughout the day.
Scientists are set to test an experimental helmet which they believe can reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Looking like a prop from an old science fiction movie, this odd-looking helmet is designed to safely emit low levels of infra-red light into the brain and stimulate the growth of brain cells.
Although the therapy is a potentially revolutionary treatment, scientists practically stumbled upon the application. Infra-red light was being studied as a treatment for cold sores, when scientists discovered that the light stimulated cell growth. Scientists at the University of Sunderland tested the infra-red light theory on mice and reported promising results - it improved learning ability and reversed memory loss.
The study of the effects of infra-red light therapy on people will begin this summer. Participants in the study, about 100 people with age-related memory problems, will wear the helmet for about 10 minutes a day. Scientists are hoping to see the same beneficial results in humans as they saw in mice.
If the results show that infra-red light therapy is able to reverse the memory loss and anxiety associated with dementia, it could change the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people who suffer from Alzheimer's disease.
The loss of smell in aging adults may be more than just another inevitable part of getting older. According to a recent study funded by the National Institute on Aging and the Illinois Department of Public Health, losing the ability to recognize common scents may be the first sign of Alzheimer's disease.
The study followed 600 people between the ages of 54 and 100 over a five year period, comparing a person's ability to recognize a dozen familiar smells (banana, black pepper, chocolate, cinnamon, gasoline, lemon, onion, paint thinner, pineapple, rose, soap, and smoke) with any signs of mental decline. The results indicated that as the difficulty to identify odors developed, so did the risk of progressing from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer's.
While no one knows what causes Alzheimer's disease, researchers have long known that the brain lesions that develop with the disease first appear in the brain region important to the sense of smell. While there is yet no cure, the results of this test may prove useful in developing a scratch-and-sniff test that would identify a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. The test could be used to slow down or prevent the disease from developing once a cure is available.
The information is not meant to cause a panic, as a diminishing sense of smell may also indicate other less serious conditions such as infected sinuses or a polyp in the nose, but it should be reported to your doctor for further examination.