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Belly Fat May Quadruple Dementia Risk

Update Date: Oct 11, 2013 05:04 PM EDT
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People who want to stay sharp should think about getting rid of their belly fat. Scientists found that people with beer bellies are three and a half times more likely to develop memory loss and dementia.

Having a lot of abdominal fat lower levels of the protein called PPARalpha, which controls how the liver breaks down fat. Researchers explain that the protein is also present in the brain's hippocampus and controls memory and learning.

Being overweight lowers PPARalpha levels throughout the body. Protein levels first deplete in the liver and then eventually in the whole body, as well as the brain.

Researchers said the latest findings could lead to the development of new dementia treatments.

"We need to better understand how fat is connected to memory and learning so that we can develop effective approach to protect memory and learning," said researcher Dr Kalipada Pahan from Rush University Medical Center, according to the Daily Mail.

"While PPARalpha deficient mice are poor in learning and memory, injection of PPARα to the hippocampus improves learning and memory," Pahan added. "Further research must be conducted to see how we could potentially maintain normal PPARalpha in the brain in order to be resistant to memory loss."

The findings are published in the journal Cell Reports

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