Big Eaters Don't Just Get Fat; They May Get Alzheimer's Disease
Can you polish off this hamburger? How about two of them?
Better watch out. The hormone that controls your appetite, leptin, is critical - not only to your weight, your percentage of body fat, your risk of diabetes and heart attack... Now, it has been identified as a major factor in Alzheimer's disease.
Boston University School of Medicine researchers, using participant data from the Framingham Heart Study, obtained the leptin levels of 785 persons identified as not having dementia. About 8 years after the levels were taken, two measures of brain aging - total cerebral brain volume and temporal horn volume - were measured on a sub-sample of 198 dementia free subjects.
Results obtained over 12 years of follow-up showed that high levels of the hormone leptin corresponded with a six percent risk of Alzheimer's disease. This compared to a 25 percent risk of Alzheimer's for subjects with low levels of leptin.
Leptin is the hormone that lets you know when to stop eating -- that you've had enough! Those with large appetites tend to have less leptin hormone than those with smaller appetites. At times in our lives our appetites can expand and contract, and the interesting thing about tests for leptin levels is that your results reflect an overall pattern, not just the appetite control you're exercising currently.
The Boston University study results deserve additional research which may lead to future medications effective at regulating leptin hormone levels.
Blood tests for leptin levels are not typically offered, but you can get one online through Private MD Lab Services, which has contract labs throughout the country to obtain blood samples. But, if you do get a leptin test privately, please be sure to discuss the results and implication with your physician!