Drop in B Vitamin levels may increase risk of dementia

Seniors with low levels of the folate B vitamin or folic acid has more than triple the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, according to the new research. “Attention needs to be paid to the nutritional status of people with dementia from the time of diagnosis onwards, regardless of whether this is a cause or effect of the condition.” Researchers tested the blood levels of all participants for folate, vitamin B12 and the amino acid homocystine. The seniors with low folate levels at the outset of the study were 3.2 times more likely to develop dementia ; those with low levels of vitamin B12 had a much lower risk, about 60 per cent. A number of studies have shown that high levels of homocysteine- a substance that can make arteries stiffen and clog- translate into higher rates of heart disease and dementia. Folate is a vitamin and found  spinch, broccoli and asparagus, in leafy green vegetables and in legumes such as lentils and kidney beans, and in citrus fruits. It is also well established that folate and B12 lower homocysteine. What remains in question, however, is whether bolstering intake of B vitamins- for example with folic acid and B12 supplements- can actually prevent or slow the onset of dementia.

The new research does not directly answer that question, but it does demonstrate quite clearly that a drop in folate levels is closely associated with the onset of dementia. People with dementia also suffer weight loss and a drop in blood pressure. Relationship between weight loss and micro nutrient concentration is potentially complex,” but the new research suggests that it may be related to poor diet. The researchers say that  “nutritionally good diet may delay the onset of dementia.

Military seeking revenge against Taliban in Swat for heavy causalities, senior offical says

Pakistan army tied to killings

by Jane Perlez and Pir Zubair Shah, Islamabad

Courtesy: Toronto Star, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009

Mingora – Two months after the Pakistani army wrested control of the Swat Valley from Taliban militants, a new campaign for fear has taken hold, with scores, perhaps hundreds, of bodies dumped on the streets in what human rights advocates and local residents say is the work of the military. In some, cases, people may simply have been seeking revenge against the ruthless Taliban, in a society that tends to accept tit-for-tat reprisals, local politicians said.

But the scale of the retaliation, the similarities in the way that many of the victims have been tortured and the systematic nature of the deaths and disappearances in areas that the military firmly controls have raised suspicions. Local residents, human rights workers and some Pakistani officials conclude the millitary has had a role in the campaign. The Pakistani army, which is supported by the United States and in the absence of effective political  leadership is running much of Swat with an iron hand, has strenuously denied any involvement with the killings. The army has acknowledged the bodies have turned up, but its spokesmen assert they are the result of civilians setting scores with collaborators. “There are no extrajudicial killings in our system,” said army spokesman Col. Akhtar Abbas. “If something happens, we have a foolproof accountability system.” Neighbours of the victims and Swat residents say there is something more going on than revenge killing by civilians. A senior politician from the region and a former interior minister, Aftab Ahmed Sherpao, said he was worried about the army’s involvement in the killings. “There have been reports of extrajudicial killings by the military that are of concern,” he said. “This will not help bring peace.” The operation in Swat, begun under public pressure from the United States, has been hailed by Washington as a showcase effort of the army’s newfound resolve to defeat the militants. The American ambassador, Anne patterson, visited Mingora, the biggest town in Swat, last week, becoming the first senior American official to go to Swat since the army took over. Now, concerns over the army’s methods in the area threaten to further taint Washington’s association with the military, cooperation that has been questioned in Congress and has been politically unpopular in Pakistan. The number of killings suggests the military is seeking to silence enthusiasm for the Taliban and to settle accounts for heavy army causalties, said a senior provincial official who declined to be identified for fear of reprimand by the army. – Source – Toronto Star, page – A12, Tuesday, Sep 15, 2009.


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