New Study Shows Alzheimer's Can Develop As Early As Teen Years
Brain longevity is an area of health that many of us put on the backburner. After all, signs of cognitive decline don’t crop up until way down the road, right? Wrong.
According to a shocking case study1 recently published by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, we may want to consider implementing brain-healthy habits as early as our teen years to ensure optimal cognitive health.
Is Alzheimer’s disease now affecting teenagers?
The case study profiles a 19-year-old male from China experiencing gradual memory decline for two years and memory impairment (as determined by an auditory verbal learning test).
Other forms of testing revealed atrophy of the bilateral hippocampus (an early sign of Alzheimer's disease, aka AD) and hypometabolism in the bilateral temporal lobe (a symptom found in both epilepsy and dementia patients).
The patient also displayed two major predictive biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease—increased concentration of p-tau1812 and a decreased amyloid-β 42/40 ratio—the latter of which increases risk of progression to dementia by 70%3, according to a 2019 study from The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease.
By far, the most interesting (and terrifying) element of this case study is that no known gene mutations were identified through whole-genome sequencing. While they don’t understand the cause, researchers have concluded this young patient has probable Alzheimer’s disease.
How to proactively care for your cognitive health.
This case study not only demonstrates that brain health should be a top priority earlier in life, but also shows us that our lifestyle habits play integral role in optimizing cognitive longevity. It’s truly never too early to show your brain extra love and care.
Here are some actionable tips you can incorporate into your regular routine to ensure that you’re nurturing your brain in the way it deserves:
- Visit your doctor: Speak up about any noteworthy cognitive changes during your annual exam so your health care provider can closely monitor your brain health.
- Optimize your nutrition: Eat a balanced diet full of brain-healthy foods and consider taking a high-quality memory supplement with science-backed ingredients (such as citicoline—a nootropic bioactive that has been shown to slow the progression of cognitive impairment) to proactively care for your brain.
- Take care of your physical health: Maintain a healthy body composition, manage your blood pressure and blood glucose levels, avoid smoking, and move your body in an intentional way on a regular basis.
- Stay socially active: Engage with friends, family, and community members regularly. Find activities that bring you joy and purpose.
A recent case study details a 19-year-old Chinese male’s probable Alzheimer’s disease, indicating that it may affect younger generations (at no fault of their genetics).
While this scenario is quite concerning, there’s many brain-healthy lifestyle habits that you can incorporate into your daily and weekly well-being routine to help promote cognitive longevity throughout your lifespan.
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Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.