A Research Study : Dr. Snowdon

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Dr. Snowdon, an epidemiologist from The University of Kentucky launched a scientific study in 1986 that would forevermore reshape our ideas about ‘growing old.’ This study, known as The Nun study consisted of 678 School Sisters of Notre Dame. The concept of The Nun Study was to inquire information about Alzheimer’s disease such as how does one get Alzheimer’s? What lifestyle changes can we do to prevent it? Is it something we do when we are young that alters our brain? Are there any medications or herbal supplements to halt the disease if one is diagnosed? Dr. Snowdon had many questions about this specific disease and thought what study would be more suitable to conduct then of the sisters who lived very similar lifestyles. These sisters, majority of them being school teachers ranged in ages from 74 to 106. One of the early theories Dr. Snowdon discovered was that the sisters who graduated college had a much higher possibility of surviving to old age. This was not surprising to Dr. Snowdon as he mentioned that studies existed from the nineteenth century about education and lifespan. Dr. Snowdon decided to head to Kentucky to meet with William Markesbery, a neurologist. He has a long history of treating Alzheimer’s patients and had performed many autopsies on thousands of brains, which were diagnosed with the disease. A notable characteristic about Markesbery is that he conducted his examinations in The Nun Study blind, without a clue of the individual’s mental status.
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