Researchers at Cambridge University found that swimming in frigid waters increased levels of a “cold-shock” protein called RBM3 that has been found to offer protection against the onset of dementia in mice models. The lead researcher, Giovanna Mallucci, said that the next step is proving that the protein can delay the disease in humans and then developing a pharmaceutical method to stimulate its production.
According to BBC News, Mallucci, who runs the U.K. Dementia Research Institute’s Centre at the University of Cambridge, says the discovery could also point to new avenues of treatment to keep dementia at bay. The RBM3 protein has been shown that it not only delays dementia in mice models, but also repairs damage to the brain.
Professor Mallucci compared a group of cold-water swimmers to people who practice Tai Chi, according to the Independent. She said that the Tai Chi practitioners who did not get cold also did not have increased levels of RBM3.
“It tells us that cold does induce this protein in humans and that cold-water swimming raises this protective protein,” she said. Experts say that the protective properties of cold temperatures may have something to do with the hibernation ability of mammals.
An estimated 5.8 million people in the United States of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease according to the latest 2020 statistics, says the Alzheimer’s Association, and experts predict that by the year 2050, the number of Alzheimer’s patients in America will hit a whopping 14 million.
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