Goldbourt is the last person to condone couch potatoes. He, himself, is a runner, hastaken part in several marathons and is past chairman of the Israel Track and FieldFederation, which has close ties to European and to World Track and Field Federations.And the professor is very careful to avoid the pitfall of seeing a cause-effect relationship between "overweight" individuals and Alzheimer's. The study provides only a statisticalassociation between mid-life weight and late-life dementia, he says. He was also involvedin another study that found that people who ruminated over problems (not to the point of neurosis) and survived beyond age 75 years had less dementia in late-life.
The little-known tricep index
The researchers revealed another little known index - the folds in the tricep muscles of the upper arms. Of the men with skinfolds that measured 18 to 43 millimeters (.71-1.69inches) in the initial study, only 15% exhibited dementia in the follow-up; of those whoseskinfolds had initially measured four to seven millimeters (.16-.28 inches), 21% later exhibited dementia."The findings indicate only an inverse association, not a ‘protection' against cognitivedecline," explains Goldbourt. "This measurement was often used in the 1950s and ‘60s.We don't know whether skinfold size correlated in any way with numbers of men whodied in the interim. The association of skinfold size with dementia, if it is valid, may havean unknown mechanism. Perhaps early childhood events, or traumas, or choosing manuallabor led to reduced upper-arm fat later in life."An important difference between the cohort we studied and others is that manual labor was done primarily by the least-educated participants. It is on-the-job occupation I amreferring to. Off-job physical activity, today's style, was quite rare in middle-aged maleimmigrants to Israel in 1963. It was a tough time. Believe me, it was rare to see someone jogging."Last year, the online issue of Neurology (March 26, 2008) reported on a study conductedat Kaiser Permanente, a Division of Research in Northern California, that showed thatthose with a larger belly in mid-life (ages 40 to 45) who were also overweight were 2.3times more likely to be afflicted with dementia in their 70s. Obese individuals, those withBMIs over 30 who have a belly, are 3.6 times at risk. Belly fat produces hormones thatget to the brain, apparently accelerating brain dysfunction.Kaiser findings differ from those of TAU in the study of BMI. Overweight individuals(BMI 25-30) had a 35% increased risk of dementia; while obese (BMI over 30) peoplehad a whopping 74% risk. In a study of skinfold, a direct correlation was found betweenskinfold size and dementia, instead of inverse.