HOUSTON - An estimated 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease. That number is predicted to balloon to more than 16 million Americans by 2050.
This week, the best and the brightest in the field are meeting for the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Vancouver to talk about treatment and share some surprising data about prevention.
Some of the biggest headlines coming out of the conference relate to lifestyle.
Dr. Dean Hartley, Director of Science Initiatives with the Alzheimer's Association told Local 2 that those who engage in moderate to binge drinking can increase their risk of cognitive problems.
Dr. Hartley explained, "Most surprising was those people that took up drinking later in life were almost at a 200 percent greater risk of having cognitive impairment."
New research also looked at the quality and quantity of sleep, comparing those who get seven hours a night to those who get just five or up to nine hours.
Dr. Hartley said, "They found that seven was kind of the sweet spot, but if you got less or you got more that you were more at risk for cognitive problems."
On the prevention side, there are exciting results when it comes to exercise such as walking, aerobics and most recently, resistance training with weights.
Dr. Hartley explained, "These all are things that we can possibly do that give us a healthier lifestyle, but could also ward off the early signs of Alzheimer's disease."
Researchers are also touting "remarkable" results of a tiny study using an experimental drug which seemed to slow the progression of the disease.
There are all signs of hope of possibly finding a cure soon.
Dr. Hartley added, "This is going to have a massive affect on our healthcare system, so we need to start treatments now or find those cures. But, that's only going to happen with more research funding."
For more information, visit www.alz.org.
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