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Pot belly increases risk of memory loss in old age

Pot belly increases risk of memory loss in old age
14th October 2013

Having a flabby midriff could mean you are more likely to suffer from memory loss and dementia in old age, it has been claimed.

Neurological scientists at the Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago found that people who have â€‹more fat around their abdominal have lower levels of a protein known as PPARalpha.

This protein controls how the liver metabolises fat, but it also helps to control learning and memory retention in the hippocampus. After the protein has been depleted in the liver, it also reduces in the brain causing cognitive issues.

The scientists feel this knowledge could lead to an injection being created that will effectively replenish the protein and improve the memory of people with dementia.

"We need to better understand how fat is connected to memory and learning so that we can develop effective approach to protect memory and learning," said Dr Kalipada Pahan, who led the study.

"While PPARalpha deficient mice are poor in learning and memory, injection of PPARα to the hippocampus improves learning and memory."

He added that further studies must be completed to evaluate ways in which normal PPARalpha can be maintained in the brain so people are resistant to memory loss.

The study was published in the Cell Reports journal.

Earlier this week, a team at the Medical Research Council Toxicology unit at the University of Leicester found a chemical compound they believe can prevent brain tissue from dying.

Known as GSK2606414, the substance is made by GlaxoSmithKline and works by halting the production of faulty or "misfolded" proteins which linger in the brain and shut down the growth of new cells.

So far, the substance has only been tested on lab mice, but researchers are confident they have made a major breakthrough in the fight against Alzheimer's disease as well as Huntingdon's and Parkinson's.

Currently, around 800,000 people in the UK live with dementia and that figure is likely to rise above one million by 2021.