Saturday, July 12, 2008

World's oldest woman had a healthy brain

It is generally assumed age-related cognitive decline is a normal process that is common to all people, and that Alzheimer's Disease is an inevitable consequence of aging; the risk of Alzheimer's increases exponentially past the age of 65, and affects more than 1 in 6 people aged over 80.

Although this is just one case study, it may lead researchers to reconsider some of their assumptions about Alzheimer's, because it shows that cognitive function can remain unimpaired far beyond the age at which they normally decline, and that Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia are not necessarily inevitable.

Ironically, the woman weighed little more than 1.5kg at birth, and was not expected to survive for long. On autopsy, a tumour of 7cm in diameter was found in her stomach, but the authors suggest that if she had not died from cancer she could have lived for several more years.

No comments: