Major Cause of Dementia Discovered

Major Cause of Dementia Discovered

Dementia is a brain disorder characterized by cognitive impairments, loss of memory, loss of nerve cells, and a loss of brain functioning. The cause of dementia has long been unknown, but scientists have now found a direct link to dementia and may be able to prevent or cure dementia in the future. Scientists have discovered that elevated levels of urea, a metabolic breakdown of protein, in the brain have been found in dementia sufferers. The buildup of this chemical to toxic levels can cause brain damage and even be the cause of dementia. While scientists do not know the root cause of this excess urea in the body, it can be assumed that impaired kidney function would contribute to the problem because urea is expelled in urine and if the kidneys are not be able to remove the urea properly, it can build up in the body. Urea levels must rise four-fold in order to be considered toxic. There are currently laxatives on the market that can remove excess ammonia from the body by trapping it in the gut, so maybe some day in the future scientists can use a similar approach to remove excess urea and prevent dementia before it occurs.

Key Points:

  • 1Dementia risk has been linked to high levels of urea in the brain, due to toxic effects that cause neural damage.
  • 2When protein is broken down in the body, urea is one of the results; urea is normally excreted as urine.
  • 3When the kidneys are unable to efficiently filter urea out from the blood, it can result in toxic effects.


The Huntington’s study also showed that the high urea levels occurred before dementia sets in, which could help doctors to one day diagnose and even treat dementia, well in advance of its onset.
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