Marian is just two years old and already has a pretty bleak prognosis. She has been diagnosed with a horrible disease called Niemann-Pick Type C. This disease’s nickname—childhood Alzheimer’s—tells all.
Childhood Alzheimer’s is extremely rare and difficult to diagnose, but when it is diagnosed, it is a major tragedy for all involved. It attacks the organs and nervous system, meaning the body and brain have a hard time communicating with one another. It also means that anyone who has it will eventually “forget” how to do all the things they were once able to do, simply because their bodies cannot receive and react to the brain’s messages.
Marian is going through physical therapy and other treatments to help her keep the ability to walk, talk, hold things, and more. But unless a cure is found soon, it will be too late for her. Childhood Alzheimer’s will steal everything from her, including, eventually, her life.
In an effort to find a cure for her, friends and family have developed the “no-pucker challenge.” Their goal was to pick something difficult to do (for example, you may recall the ice bucket challenge or the cinnamon challenge) that would quickly spread on Facebook and other social media sites. Along with the challenge, the message that Marian is in need of donations to fund the research that could make her cure a reality would also spread.
Can you put a slice of lemon in your mouth and eat it without making a “pucker” face? We bet you can’t. But either way, it’s not a bad idea to share an image or video of your attempt on Facebook to help researchers find a cure for Marian and other youngsters like her. And don’t forget to share this post as well!
While Marian’s disease is not the same as traditional Alzheimer’s, it shares many similarities with Alzheimer’s disease, leading some to believe that finding effective treatments or a cure for one may assist researchers in developing treatments or a cure for the other. Click here to learn how you can contribute to Alzheimer’s research and care.
Check out the video below to see Marian in action. This sweet toddler is sure to melt even the stoniest of hearts!
Study Shows Drinking Too Little Alcohol During Middle Age Could Increase Dementia Risk
It’s widely known that too much alcohol is bad for your body and your brain, but experts are now starting to believe that drinking too little alcohol during middle age may also have a negative impact on your health.
In a UK study, researchers followed 9,000 London civil servants between the ages of 35 and 55 from 1985 to 1993 to track their drinking habits and mental health. Hospital records, mental health service records, and mortality records identified 397 cases of dementia during the course of the study. The results were published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
The expectation was that those who did the most drinking during the study would also be the most likely to suffer from dementia. And that was indeed the case. For those who drank more than 14 units of alcohol in a week, each additional 7 units of alcohol appeared to result in a 17 percent increase in the person’s dementia risk”
But the data showed that the opposite was also somewhat true. Those who did not drink at all were 45 percent more likely to suffer from dementia than those who drank anywhere from one to 14 units of alcohol each week (the equivalent of about a bottle and a half of wine). Those who did not consume any alcohol also had a higher risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which may have contributed to the development of dementia.
“Wine, in addition to alcohol, contains polyphenolic compounds, which have been associated with neuroprotective effects on both neurodegenerative and vascular pathways, and with cardioprotective effects through inflammation reduction, inhibition of platelet aggregation, and alteration of lipid profile,” says Dr. Sevil Yasar from John Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, who was not involved in the study.
But don’t make a trip to the liquor store just yet. Researchers are warning people that there may be an underlying reason for their findings.
“As this study only looked at people’s drinking in midlife, we don’t know about their drinking habits earlier in adulthood, and it is possible that this may contribute to their later-life dementia risk, says Dr. Sara Imarisio, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK. “People who completely abstain from alcohol may have a history of heavy drinking and this can make it difficult to interpret the links between drinking and health.”
In other words, people who do not drink at all are more likely to have had problems with alcohol addiction in the past. If alcoholism led them to abstain from drinking completely, they may already have increased their dementia risk long before entering this study. The short study did not investigate alcohol consumption for the entirety of the subjects’ lives, so there’s no way of knowing if any of the participants abused alcohol before the study began. It’s also possible that people who already had metabolic diseases or risk factors for these diseases were simply less likely to drink because of the known negative impacts of alcohol on overall health.
Future research is needed to determine how alcohol consumption over the entire lifespan predicts the risk of dementia and other diseases.