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Cooking meat could increase dementia risk

Cooking meat could increase dementia risk
26th February 2014

Eating large quantities of cooked meat could increase your risk of developing dementia, a new US study claims.

According to researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York, browning meets in ovens, frying pans or under a grill creates chemicals known as advanced glycation end (AGE).

These products have previously been linked to type-2 diabetes, but tests run on mice suggest a connection to dementia also.

The rodents were fed a diet high in AGE before build-up of proteins in their brains were assessed. The research found those which consumed the highest levels of the chemical suffered from impaired cognitive functioning.

Published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences journal, the study found a build-up of defective beta amyloid protein, a key cause of Alzheimer's disease.

However, mice eating low quantities of AGE-rich meats appeared to be able to prevent amyloid being produced.

"We report that age-related dementia may be causally linked to high levels of food advanced glycation end products," a segment of the study read.

"Importantly, reduction of food-derived AGEs is feasible and may provide an effective treatment strategy."

Derek Hill, professor of medical imaging sciences at University College London, described the results as "compelling".

He said that a cure for Alzheimer's disease is a "distant hope", but studies such as this could highlight a way to prevent cases with simple dietary changes. However, he feels much more work needs to be carried out before a conclusive verdict can be reached.

It's a view shared by Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at the charity, Alzheimer's Research UK.

He pointed out that the issue has been not studied much in people yet so it is impossible to categorically state that the amount of AGE in someone's diet increases their risk of cognitive impairment.

An estimated 820,000 are currently living with some form of dementia in the UK and the number is set to rise above one million by 2021 unless a significant breakthrough in research is made.

Read more about Barchester's dementia care homes