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In a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience this summer, Tufts University School of Medicine researchers compared brain function in participants who suffered traumatic brain injury to that of Alzheimer’s patients.

“Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the most robust environmental risk factors for Alzheimer's disease,” they reported.

According to Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility and Science and Environmental Health Network, environmental risk factors can include such things as diet, lack of physical activity, pollution, and pesticides. Per Medical News Now, other possible Alzheimer’s causes include age, genes, gender, heart disease, and education.

The Tufts University researchers found that one traumatic brain injury increases BACE1 enzyme levels. That enzyme causes peptide amyloid-beta levels to increase, and buildup of that peptide has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease in numerous studies.

In 2011, researchers of another study told the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) that traumatic brain injury doubled one’s risk of developing dementia 15 percent over a seven year period.

“The relationship between brain injury and risk of dementia remains unclear, with some studies suggesting an increased risk and others finding no association,” the AAIC’s September 2011 newsletter stated. “It is an important topic that deserves more research attention.”

Traumatic brain injuries are caused by “a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain,” the Centers for Disease Control’s website has stated. Nearly two million people suffer one each year.

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