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Nicotine May Delay Progression Of Alzheimer’s In Early Stages

AMERICAN FORK, Utah – Scientists say nicotine, when administered correctly, could be effective for delaying or preventing memory loss in patients with Alzheimer’s in the early stages of the disease.

You may think memory loss is a normal part of aging that can’t be treated, but scientists at the University of Utah and Vanderbilt University are hoping to help people, like Kay Farnsworth, with the unlikely treatment source.

American Fork resident Stacie Farnsworth now cares for her mother, who has Alzheimer’s.

“She is the sweetest lady you would ever meet,”  Farnsworth said. “She worked at the community college for 30 years and she just would do anything for anybody – and that’s been the hard part, having her here but not having her here.”

Kay started showing symptoms at age 65. They have worsened over the last 11 years.

“I don’t think she knows me as ‘Stacie’ anymore. I think she thinks I am her sister.” Farnsworth said. “She gets confused. She’ll call us but not quite sure who she’s talking to.”

Scientists said confusion can be an indicator of the disease.

“If you go to the grocery store and you forget an item or two on your list, that’s probably a normal thing,” said University of Utah psychiatry professor Scott Langenecker. “But if you find that you’ve forgotten most of the items or even half of the items, that’s probably an indication.”

“I’ve been banging on this door for about 30 years,” said Dr. Paul Newhouse with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Newhouse said nicotine can improve memory.

Both said they don’t believe it can reverse Alzheimer’s, but Farnsworth said the study is still encouraging for possibly delaying or preventing memory loss.

“It would be nice not to have other people have to go through this either suffering from it that way or on the other end,” Farnsworth said.

Doctors said nicotine does not cause cancer, heart disease or respiratory illness. It’s the tar and thousands of other chemicals in cigarettes that do.

For more information, go to mindstudy.org.

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