Living on Earth’s Diane Toomey reports on a study that shows a common Indian spice might play a role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
CURWOOD: Coming up: precision farmers and treasure hunters alike tap into the Global Positioning System. First, this environmental health note from Diane Toomey.
TOOMEY: There’s evidence to suggest that anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease since they reduce brain inflammation. But excessive use of these substances can cause intestinal, liver, and kidney damage.
Now a study suggests there might be an alternative. India has one of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s disease. It also has one of the highest rates of curry consumption. Turmeric is an important ingredient in curry and turmeric contains curcumin, a well-known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory herb.
So using mice specially bred to develop Alzheimer’s, researchers at UCLA fed one group a normal diet. Another group of mice received the same diet, but with a low dose of curcumin added. After six months, brain biopsies showed the curcumin-eating mice had less inflammation compared to mice that didn’t eat the spice. These mice also had less oxidative damage to brain cells and produced smaller amounts of a protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers caution that while the study is promising, there’s no research to suggest that curcumin would have similar effects in humans. That’s this week’s Health Note. I’m Diane Toomey.
CURWOOD: And you're listening to Living on Earth.
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