Alzheimer's Studies Tackle Omega Threes and Alcohol

A new study reveals omega threes don't combat Alzheimer's Disease.

July 13, 2009 — -- "Good Morning America" medical editor Dr. Tim Johnson has broken down brand new studies on Alzheimer's disease. and wants you to know what they mean.

Find out his thoughts on the new research below.

Alzheimer's and Omega Three Fatty Acids

The findings from an 18-month, government-backed study suggest taking supplements of docosahexenoic acid, or DHA -- an omega-3 fatty acid -- does not arrest Alzheimer's in people who have already developed the mind-robbing disease.

DHA is an omega three fatty acids that you get from eating certain fish like salmon and tuna, or from certain plants or supplements that include fish oil. In the past there have been some suggestions that this particular fatty acid might reduce the risk for Alzheimer's or even help treat it.

The research looked at 400 randomized patients. One group got a two gram dose of fatty acid every day. The other group got a placebo for 18 months. The results showed no difference in outcome between the two groups.

This is the best study done on Alzheimer's and DHA far and away.

Alzheimer's and Alcohol Intake

Experts at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina examined and interviewed 3,069 people aged 75 or older -- most with no memory problems -- about their drinking habits and whether they drank beer, wine or spirits.

It looked for a correlation between people who drank one to two alcoholic beverages a day. Those people had a 40 percent less chance of developing dementia compared to abstainers.

The study, which was presented at the Alzheimer's Association 2009 International Conference, also found that those who had a mild impairment did not benefit from moderate alcohol consumption, and the impairment got worse with alcohol.

There are other benefits from moderate drinking. You can reduce your risk for heart disease, for example. But you shouldn't start drinking if you don't. Ten percent of people who start drinking become alcoholics. And more than one to two drinks daily can damage your brain and heart tissue.

Alzheimer's and PTSD

Researchers looked at 50,000 veterans who were diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and 125,000 vets who were not diagnosed with PTSD.

The study, which was reported at the Alzheimer's Association 2009 International Conference on Alzheimer's disease, followed the veterans for seven years.

Vets who had been diagnosed with PTSD had a 1.8 times greater risk of developing Alzheimer's than those who did not have PTSD.

That's just one more reason to monitor these people carefully.