19 October 2020 18:40

Barbara Windsor EastEnders Good Morning Britain

Cold-water swimming could delay dementia, research suggests

Taking a dip in cold water could help defend the brain against dementia and other degenerative diseases, research suggests. Scientists monitoring swimmers in London's Parliament Hill Lido found elevated levels of the 'cold-shock' protein — RBM3 — in their bloodstream. The compound is also produced by hibernating mammals, triggering the destruction and regrowth of synapses — which are permanently lost in dementia. Scientists say their renewal is good because it repairs vital connections in the brain, staving off the debilitating condition for longer. When hibernating animals — including hedgehogs, bears and squirrels — bed down for the winter the protein sparks the removal of 20 to 30 per cent of their synapses.

Studies in mice with dementia have even shown the protein could help delay the onset of degenerative brain diseases. Scientists from Cambridge University, who have extensively covered the link between dementia and the 'cold-shock' protein, say their research suggests a drug that can trigger the production of this protein could ward off the onset of dementia by years. Scientists have identified the 'cold-shock' protein for the first time after testing swimmers at Parliament Hill's lido (pictured). The 'cold-shock' protein - RBM3 - is used in hibernating mammals to conserve energy. It is suggested the protein may be able to slow or arrest the decline of dementia sufferers - possibly providing vital extra years - by preserving the synapses in their brains.

Tests on prion-infected mice show it slowed the progression of their disease, although it did not cause synapse regrowth in dementia-suffering mice. Making humans hypothermic to see whether they would produce the 'cold-shock' protein presented the team with many ethical challenges. But after hearing a report on BBC Radio 4 Today, lido swimmer Martin Pate contacted them to say his team regularly got hypothermic - down to 34C (93F) - and would be good subjects for the study. The team found elevated levels of the 'cold-shock' protein in the swimmers. Professor Giovanna Mallucci, who led the research, told the BBC the findings proved humans, just like hibernating animals, can produce the protein.

But she warned cold water immersion is certainly not a possible dementia treatment because the risks of plummeting temperatures could far outweigh the benefits. She said the mission is to find a drug that can trigger the production of this protein, which could protect the brain. 'If you slowed the progress of dementia by even a couple of years on a whole population, that would have an enormous impact economically and health-wise,' Professor Mallucci said. The 'cold-shock' protein was identified in 2015, when ordinary mice and mice suffering from dementia or prion disease - where proteins in the brain cause irreversible damage to the organ - were cooled to 16-18C (60F-64F) for 45 minutes. The scientists found that RBM3 levels rose in ordinary mice and allowed them to regrow synapses, suggesting a pivotal role for the protein.

The scientists said their work, published in the journal Nature, suggested the protein could be used to slow the onset of dementia. The 'cold-shock' protein could help keep the symptoms for dementia at bay for longer (stock) The NHS warns that dementia sufferers tend to get worse over time, although medication may be able to slow the progression of the disease. Cold-water swimming could help to delay neuro-degenerative diseases such as dementia, research has suggested. Academics at Cambridge University found that many of the cold-water swimmers they monitored at Parliament Hill Lido in London between 2016 and 2018 had increased levels of a "cold-shock" protein (RBM3), which a 2015 study on mice showed offered protection against the onset of dementia. Giovanna Mallucci, the lead researcher, told the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme that the next challenges are to decisively prove that the protein delays dementia and then to find a drug that stimulates its production.

Speaking of the latest findings, Prof Mallucci, who is the director of the UK Dementia Research Institute's Centre at Cambridge University, said that her team compared cold-water swimmers with people doing Tai Chi who did not get cold. "We compared you to a bunch of people doing Tai Chi who didn't get cold and none of them got increased levels of this protein but many of you did," Prof Mallucci told the swimmers. The project came about after Martin Pate, who swims in the unheated water at the north London lido during the winter, got in touch with Prof Mallucci after hearing her tell the BBC that she wanted to look at RBM3 in humans. "If you slowed the progress of dementia by even a couple of years on a whole population, that would have an enormous impact economically and health-wise," she said. (MENAFN) Cambridge University has released new records that claim swimming in cold water may save the brain from deteriorating illnesses, such as dementia. Winter swimmers at London Parliament Hill Lido have found that their blood contains a "cold shock" protein, marking it as a new discovery. Cold water swimming has been mooted as a potential treatment for depression, but could it also help slow dementia? Scientists at the University of Cambridge studied winter bathers at London's unheated Parliament Hill Lido, and found that when exposed to cold water their bodies produced a protein that is believed to slow dementia. The research is in its early stages, but supports existing studies that suggest low temperatures trigger the production of a 'cold-shock protein' called RBM3. Scientists believe RBM3 enables synapses in the brain to re-form lost connections in the same way that the brains of hibernating animals do when they emerge from winter. Cold water swimming is not for everyone and can be dangerous to people with certain health conditions. The challenge for researchers, therefore, is to create a drug that stimulates the production of RBM3 and also prove that it does indeed slow dementia. Icy dips trigger the release of 'cold-shock protein', which scientists believe slows dementia. Researchers are throwing cold water on what they thought they knew about dementia with the discovery of a protein in humans that may help guard against degenerative brain conditions. The "cold shock" protein, also known as RBM3, has been found to slow and even repair damage from the advancement of dementia in mice, according to BBC News. Try refreshing your browser, or Cold temperatures may slow dementia Back to video Scientists have long known that decreasing body temperature can have a protective effect on the human brain, they just haven't been sure exactly why, according to Giovanna Mallucci, head of the UK Dementia Research Institute at the University of Cambridge. When animals — such as bears, bats and hedgehogs — hunker down for their long sleep, body temperature drops, heart rate slows and roughly 20 to 30 per cent of the synapses connecting the cells in their brains are destroyed as the body conserves resources.