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Alzheimer's Disease

Preventing Alzheimer`s Disease

02/06/2004

Question:

I read somewhere that having hobbies or doing challenging activities like crossword puzzles can help prevent Alzheimer's Disease. Is this true? Why does this happen?

Answer:

We and others have found that mental activities involving learning may decrease the risk of getting the disease. Education and intellectual demands of occupational activities may also be protective. I believe that it is important for people at all stages in life to be involved in learning. The learning activities do not necessarily need to encompass crossword or other puzzles -- what is important is that the brain is occupied with the world in an interactive manner. We believe that this is true because brain activity is reflected by changes in brain blood flow, metabolism, growth of new connections and growth factors, and resistance to disease. The brain is an organ just like every other organ of the body, which ages in regards to how it is used. 

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Response by:

Robert P Friedland, MD Robert P Friedland, MD
Formerly, Professor of Neurology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University