With the development of the Western health industry and medical research, life expectancy has added decades to the average life. And yet, with an ageing population, the later stages of life bring their own risks and diseases. Over 20 % of people over 65 will, according to the Alzheimer Association, develop dementia of the Alzheimer’s variety. Currently, it is estimated there are 5.7 million Alzheimer-sufferers in the USA, and 80% of these patients have MCI or minor cognitive impairment.
Faced with this veritable plague among the elderly, there have been no significant advances in creating an effective treatment. The symptoms of these pathologies, in particular regarding memory and recall, have dire effects on the autonomy of elderly people. In the long term, many must be interned in specialised institutions. And furthermore, life expectancy is significantly reduced, currently estimated at 10 years on average from the onset of dementia symptoms.
New scientific breakthrough in the fight against dementia
Extensive research is underway to find a miracle cure to the dementia epidemic. One of these studies, organised by doctor Paul Newhouse, established that nicotine can provide relief or help cognitive functions. This research is far from recent, as Newhouse published research on the potential of nicotine to treat dementia as early as 1990.
More recently, Newhouse testes this theory on 70 patients diagnosed with MCI. Half of the sample group wore nicotine patches, while the other half were given placebo. All patients were subjected to a cognitive evaluation before, during, and after the treatment, over a period of 6 months.
Published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the results are promising. The tests revealed a 46% improvement in memory function for patients given nicotine. On the other hand, the placebo group saw a decrease of 26% on average compared to the other group.
This major breakthrough has unlocked significant funding to test this theory on a higher scale. A new test programme, named MIND (Memory Improvement Through Nicotine Dosing) will involve 300 patients over the span of 2 years. If nicotine is discovered to be an effective treatment for dementia, nicotine substitutes may become prescribed by medical professionals. Vaping, currently a controversial topic in the medical community, could come to light as a product with proven health benefits.