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BRAIN PROTECTION


occurs is unknown, but researchers think fatty acids from food infiltrate the brain and jump-start a process that causes damage to the regions responsible for memory and learning. A study by the University of Minnesota in the US examined


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the result of a high-fat diet (where at least 40 per cent of calories were from fat) on memory in rats, and the subsequent effects of exercise. Memory declined after four months of the high-fat diet, but then improved once exercise – the equivalent of 30 minutes’ jogging a day – was introduced. After seven weeks, the rats on the high-fat diet were


scoring as well on the memory test as they had at the start, whereas the memory of those not exercising continued to decline. However, it’s not known if the same protective effect would be noted in humans. ■ Mavanji, V et al. Presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (2012)


WARDING OFF BREAST CANCER T


he effect exercise has on how women produce estrogen could be a reason why physical activity helps to reduce the risk of breast cancer, US scientists have found. Just under 400 healthy but sedentary females aged


18–30 years were randomly split into two groups. All were premenopausal, meaning their bodies still produced estrogen – a large contributing factor in developing breast cancer. The first group remained inactive for the 16-week trial; the second performed 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity five times a week. Exercise had a significant impact on two estrogen


Might exercise protect the human brain from a fatty diet? www.sportshandbook.com


metabolites – by-products when estrogen is broken down by the body. Women in the exercise group had higher levels of the relatively benign metabolite hydroxyestrone and lower levels of 16 alpha-hydroxyestrone, a mutagenic metabolite that’s capable of damaging DNA and that’s considered potentially carcinogenic. Having more of the benign metabolite and less of the damaging one is, say the researchers, linked to warding off breast cancer. ■ Kurzer, Mindy S et al. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention (2013)


Sports Management Handbook 2014-2015 69


diet containing lots of fatty foods is associated with a decline in brain functioning, elevating the risk of conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Exactly how this


Exercise could lower breast cancer risk by impacting estrogen production


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