Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) is a progressive brain disorder caused by the presence of abnormal proteins in nerve cells. It is the second most common form of progressive dementia, after Alzheimer’s disease, and it affects an estimated 1.3 million Americans. Are there Lewy Body Dementia risk factors that help explain the cause? Let’s explore below.
Symptoms of LBD can vary significantly from person to person, but may include cognitive decline, changes in behavior, and disrupted movement. People with LBD are more likely to develop certain physical symptoms such as visual hallucinations and sleep disturbances.
Lewy Body Dementia Risk Factors
While the specific causes of LBD are still being studied, there are certain risk factors that may increase a person’s chances of developing this condition.
Is Age a Risk Factor for LBD?
Recent research has raised questions about the potential role of age in increasing risk for developing LBD. Studies have found that age may be an important factor when considering one’s likelihood of being diagnosed with LBD.
Generally, people over the age of 60 show higher rates of diagnosis than those under 60; however, individuals as young as 50 can also develop symptoms (early onset) associated with LBD. The risk for developing LBD does not increase with age in all studies, however.
Some researchers have found that when the information is controlled for other factors, age doesn’t appear to be a significant predictor of LBD. 19
Lewy Body Dementia Risk Factors and Genetics
A growing body of evidence suggests that genetics may play a role in the condition and some diseases may be genetic in origin. Scientists have discovered that some of these rare cases may be caused by mutations in the gene for alpha-synuclein (SNCA), the main protein found in Lewy bodies.
In further studies, researchers have discovered that variants in the gene for apolipoprotein E (APOE), which is known for playing a role in Alzheimer’s, may also be related to the condition.
The onset of Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) can be attributed to many factors, and it is important to be aware of the risk factors in order to properly manage the disease. Recent research suggests that certain medications may increase the likelihood of developing LBD, so understanding these potential risks is essential for those with a family history or already diagnosed with this condition.
While there has been no definitive confirmation that some drugs increase the risks associated with LBD, recent studies do suggest a connection between commonly prescribed medications and an increased risk of developing this neurological syndrome. Certain cholesterol-lowering drugs, anti-psychotics, calcium channel blockers and other over-the-counter medications have been tentatively linked to an increased chance of developing LBD in some cases.
The environment may play a role in the development and progression of Lewy Body Dementia (LBD). Emerging evidence suggests that exposure to certain environmental factors can increase an individual’s risk of developing this form of dementia. Recent research indicates that air pollution, water contamination, and other environmental toxins could be a risk factors for LBD and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Previous studies have suggested that these environmental exposures may cause changes in the brain by increasing oxidative stress, causing inflammation, or disrupting neurotransmitter levels. The exact mechanism through which these factors contribute to LBD is still unknown. However, there is evidence to suggest that genetic mutations may interact with environmental exposures to increase an individual’s risk of developing this devastating disease.
Toxins are a Lewy Body Dementia Risk Factor
In recent years, scientists have discovered that environmental toxins may be one of the risk factors for developing this neurological disorder.
The human brain is vulnerable to chemical exposure from a variety of sources – such as pesticides, heavy metals, and other pollutants found in our air and water. Research suggests that these toxins can accumulate in the brain over time, leading to an increased risk for LBD.
Specifically, high levels of copper accumulation seem to increase inflammation in the brain’s nerve cells which can lead to the destruction of the neurons and reduce communication between them. This disruption can result in mental decline due to memory loss or impaired thinking abilities – common symptoms associated with LBD.
Agent Orange and Lewy Body Dementia
Agent Orange is a toxic herbicide used in the Vietnam War to defoliate jungles. In recent years, it has been linked to an increased risk of developing Lewy Body Dementia.
Studies have found that people who were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War have a higher risk of developing LBD than those who weren’t exposed. Researchers believe that this is due to multiple factors. These include exposure to dioxin, which is a component of Agent Orange, as well as genetic susceptibility and environmental factors that may increase vulnerability to developing LBD. The exact cause remains unclear, but evidence suggests that there may be a relationship between agent orange exposure and an increased risk for LBD.
The VA and Service-Connection for Parkinson’s, Parkinsonism, and Lewy Body Dementia
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes Parkinson’s Disease, Parkinsonism and Lewy Body Dementia as service-connected disabilities for Veterans who served in the United States military and were exposed to Agent Orange. These three neurological conditions can be severely debilitating, presenting symptoms such as tremors, impaired mobility and cognitive decline.
The VA presumes that all Veterans that were exposed to Agent Orange, with one of these conditions incurred during their active duty military service. In order to receive disability benefits, however, the veteran must prove a connection between their condition and their time in the military. This may include medical records or other documentation indicating that they were exposed to toxins or hazardous materials while on active duty.
Veterans should contact their local VA office if they wish to apply for compensation related to one of these service-connected disabilities.
Camp Lejeune Toxic Water
For decades, the water supply at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina has been contaminated with hazardous chemicals. This contamination has caused numerous health issues among Marines and their families stationed at the base. Recently, researchers have linked this toxic water to an increased risk of Parkinson’s Disease and Lewy Body Dementia (LBD).
In 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) began providing disability compensation to affected Veterans and their families. However, in order to be eligible for compensation, Veterans and their families must meet specific criteria related to diagnosis and exposure. Eligible Veterans with Parkinson’s Disease or LBD must have served at Camp Lejeune for 30 days within a 36-month period between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
Contact the VA or a Veterans Service Officer for more information.
In conclusion, Lewy Body Dementia is a debilitating, progressive disease that affects the brain and nervous system. The exact causes of Lewy Body Dementia remain unknown, although age, genetics, and exposure to toxins are thought to be risk factors. It is important for individuals to monitor their own health and protect themselves from potential toxins.
Knowing the risk factors associated with Lewy Body Dementia can help individuals take proactive steps to mitigate their risk.