Eating the wrong diet could increase your risk of developing Alzheimer's, a study claims.
Scientists have found a link between the degenerative brain disease and raised levels of an omega-6 fatty acid found in red meat, poultry, cereals, eggs, nuts and most vegetable oils. The discovery may open the door to a way of treating dementia with drugs.
Researchers compared the brains of mice bred with a condition that mimics Alzheimer's to those of normal mice. They found higher levels of a fatty acid called arachidonic acid in mice with memory loss and confused behaviour. The mice also had more metabolites, the by-product of arachidonic acid that has been broken down. The acid is essential for a healthy brain, where it is incorporated into fats that form the membranes that protect brain cells.
Study leader Dr Rene Sanches-Mejia, of the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Diseases in San Francisco, said: 'The most striking change was an increase in arachidonic acid and metabolites in the hippocampus, a memory centre affected severely by Alzheimer's.'
By altering the genetic make-up of the Alzheimer's mice, the scientists lowered the levels of the fatty acid and improved the mice's memory, the team report today in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
The researchers believe that the substance interferes with the brain's nerve cells, or neurons.