BULLETIN OF THE McGILL CENTRE FOR STUDIES IN AGING
January - February 2007 ISSN 0838-2263 Volume 23, No. 1
ARE WE READY TO AGE?
An interview with Dr. Stéphane Ledoux, M.D., Clinical Neurologist
and Researcher, McGill Centre for Studies in Aging and Cité de
la santé, Laval
COULD NEW RESEARCH
MAKE OLD NEWS OF
AN ETHICAL DEBATE?
will develop Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Every year in the United States, 360,000older adults receive an AD diagnosis. In
people ages 65 and up, and the prevalence
doubles roughly every 10 years after 65.
for which there are few effectivetreatments, including neurodegenerative
diseases and other maladies associatedwith aging. On the other hand, theethical debate rages on because
POLICY AND POLITICS
HOW WELL ARE CANADIAN SENIORS DOING? THE
2006 REPORT CARD OF THE NATIONAL ADVISORY
a patient would be associated withthe destruction of that embryo.
COUNCIL ON AGING
on finding alternative sources for stemcells, with umbilical cord blood andeven skin having populations of stem
How are Canadian seniors doing? How talking to experts in gerontology, seniors’
officials working in aging and seniors’
4.2 million persons aged 65 or older. This
IN THIS ISSUE
Embryonic stem cells: end of the debate . . . . . . . . . 1
Interview with Stéphane Ledoux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
whether the situation had improved, gotten
How well are Canadian seniors doing?. . . . . . . . . . . 1
worse, or remained the same over the last
Does your doctor google? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
questions with their 2006 Report Card, by
Memory and cognitive intervention . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Men’s health . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
An interview with Dr. Stéphane Ledoux, M.D., Clinical Neurologist and Researcher,
McGill Centre for Studies in Aging and Cité de la santé, Laval
(Continued from page 1)
have this most common form of dementia.
and with a detailed neurological exam.
definitive cure for the disease are in large
the two proven risk factors for AD are age
and a family history of the disorder.
the Université de Montréal and then went
increases one's risk, particularly if the
to McGill University for his specialization
because of the progressive and irreversible
the disease (beginning before age 65) that
neurologist based at the Cité de la Santé
factors may also increase one's risk. Some
injury, lower levels of formal education,
brain cells. In addition, another protein
things interact to produce the disease in
deforms and collapses into neurofibrillary
its clinic and academic training programs
and experiences early in life may also play
a role in the eventual development of AD.
clinical work with patients and exposureto the basic research aimed
treatment that halts the progression of AD
of directly preventing AD from developing
is very hopeful however; in fact he states
is involved in the evaluation, treatment,
that within the next two years there will
treatment has definitely proven clinically
with cognitive disorders and diseases such
a ways to go before we regard age-related
optimism to the clinical trials designed to
Centre’s efforts in several ways. First, he
for Studies in Aging being on the forefront
of these drug trials. Moreover, Dr. Ledoux
Dr. Ledoux explains that most are referred
is well positioned to offer such an opinion
most of us tend to take little notice of the
pathological aging in some form is taking
involved in monitoring the effects of these
realities of aging. What exactly underlies
HOW WELL ARE CANADIAN SENIORS DOING? THE 2006 REPORT CARD OF THE
NATIONAL ADVISORY COUNCIL ON AGING
(Continued from page 1)
views known by filling out the evaluation
condition remain high and quality of care
form at the end of the report and send it to
physicians is worsening. Concern has also
of geriatricians. On the whole, seniors are
that Canadian seniors are doing well, with
satisfied with their medical care, but if
of care are not addressed, this may change.
to be generally healthy (B-), and fairly well
Clearly, the level of health care seniors
served by the healthcare system (C+).
receive is of critical importance for their
overall health, and improvements will need
that there are very positive findings, but
Seniors in Canada: 2006 Report Card,
National Advisory Council on Aging.
limitations. The most important of these is
that it mainly reflects younger, healthier
seniors. This is because the data are taken
Canada’s Seniors: A Growing Population.
well, self-assessments of physical health,
health as good, very good or excellent, up
seniors who are no longer living at home.
quality of life than even 5 years ago. What
conditions like hypertension, diabetes and
surveys used in this report did not include
seniors living in the Yukon, Nunavut, and
the Northwest Territories. Although this is
seniors, the particular challenges of aging
adults living in Canada’s North are not well
healthcare system is the area in greatest
2006 Report Card is definitely worth a read
wellbeing of Canada’s aging population.
HARVESTING STEM CELLS WITHOUT DAMAGING EMBRYOS: COULD NEW
RESEARCH MAKE OLD NEWS OF AN ETHICAL DEBATE?
(Continued from page 1)
Y. Chung, I. Klimanskaya, S. Becker, J.
researchers in the United States looked at
womb. In their remarkable study, Chung et
Marh, S.J. Lu, J. Johnson, L. Meisner &
extraembryonic stem cell lines derived
blastomere – or a tiny ball of cells – at that
an embryo without it being destroyed.
that the answer to this question is ‘yes’.
after the micro-dissection of cells. Thus,
already widely used to diagnose potential
destruction of … embryos would reduce or
eliminate the ethical concerns of many.”
DOES YOUR DOCTOR GOOGLE?
by Tania Elaine Schramek
(there are always several…) is definitely
boy that they could not explain the cause
The answer to this question is a resounding
“knowledge is power”; we simply have to be
doctors using Google, no one could hold all
getting the correct information because they
existing medical facts in their heads, so
and that a simple internet query using the
use the right key words for their searches.
internet search engines are indeed useful
the answer. The father was correct, leaving
to the lay person who can get totally lost or
even worse, end up thinking that their days
are numbered! Just as a case in point, take
Hangwi Tang & Jennifer Hwee Kwoon Ng
(2006). Googling for a diagnosis—use of
dizziness, and weakness. The resulting links
Google as a diagnostic aid: internet based
to possible diagnoses range from migraine
to cancer. Clearly, this can add to one’s
them to the real diagnoses in the medical
diagnosis to address unanswered questions
IMPROVE YOUR MEMORY: COGNITIVE
An interview with
INTERVENTION IS EFFECTIVE FOR HEALTHY
Dr. Stéphane Ledoux, M.D.,
Clinical Neurologist and
OLDER ADULTS AND PEOPLE WITH MILD
Researcher, McGill Centre
for Studies in Aging and
Cité de la santé, Laval
(Continued from page 2)
Everyone would like to improve their memory. Just as exercise trains the body, answers but he did allude to the
it may be possible to design a “fitness program” for our memory. This is especially
important for individuals suffering from mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI is
defined as impaired memory performance in older adults without general cognitive
impairment or dementia. MCI is important because individuals with this disorder are
much more likely to develop dementia over a 2-3-year period than the general population.
It is hoped that interventions aimed at MCI may improve quality of life for these
absolutely no choice is aging
individuals and even slow down the development of Alzheimer’s Disease.
In a recent paper in Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders
Drs. Sylvie Belleville, Brigitte Gilbert, Francine Fontaine, Lise Gagnon, Édith Ménard,
and Serge Gauthier reported that healthy older adults and individuals with MCI showed
improvement in face-name associations and memory for lists after completing an 8-week
cognitive intervention program aimed at improving memory, attention, and stress
management. In contrast, those subjects who did not receive the memory training
showed no improvement over the same time period, and MCI patients even showed a small
decline. What is especially exciting about these results is that the memory improvement
seen in subjects with MCI was on memory tasks that are known to deteriorate
in Alzheimer’s Disease patients. This provides some hope that even brief memory
training courses may be useful for MCI sufferers and maybe even reduce the chances of
developing dementia later on. But since healthy older adults also showed memory
improvement, a little memory workout is probably good for everyone. Now, everybody
Belleville, S., Gilbert, B., Fontaine, F., Gagnon, L., Ménard, E., & Gauthier, S. (2006).
Improvement of Episodic Memory in Persons with Mild Cognitive Impairment and
Healthy Older Adults: Evidence from a Cognitive Intervention Program. Dementia and
Geriatric Cognitive Disorders, 22, 886-499.
SCIENCE HERE AND NOW
DR. SERGE CARRIER: MEN’S HEALTH SPECIALIST
by Daniel Auld
Evette Beshay decided to look at oxidative
Division of Urology at McGill University.
evidence of oxidative stress in the bladders
of the diabetic rats. From their work, they
his major research interests, which relate
the bladder could contribute to the bladder
McGILL CENTRE FOR STUDIES
member of the scientific committee for the
2nd Canadian Society for the Study of the
and improve the treatment options for men
Tel.: (514) 766-2010 / Fax: (514) 888-4050
conference. Dr. Carrier is another example
of how vibrant the Montreal aging research
for treating erectile dysfunction. In this
Sonia Lupien (Douglas Hospital, MCSA)
S Carrier et al. (2005) Efficacy and safety
Dr. Carrier and his colleagues found that
of oral tadalafil in the treatment of men in
Canada with erectile dysfunction: a
randomized, double-blind, parallel,
intercourse than was the placebo (no drug)
placebo-controlled clinical trial. Journal
treatment. In terms of his other research
interests, Dr. Carrier has been active in
Beshay E, Carrier S. (2004) Oxidative
stress plays a role in diabetes-induced
known to affect the bladder in a condition
bladder dysfunction in a rat model.
(Douglas Hospital Research Centre)
called diabetic cystopathy, which results
(Douglas Hospital Research Centre)
LAYOUT AND PRINTING
Imprimerie Miro inc.
It is with great pleasure that Geronto-McGill
this in mind, Dr. Carrier and his colleague
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