Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Mediterranean Diet, NIH / 21.04.2020 Interview with: Emily Y. Chew, M.D. Director of the Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications Deputy Clinical Director at the National Eye Institute (NEI), National Institutes of Health What is the background for this study? Response: Dementia is a common disorder that was estimated to have a worldwide prevalence of 44 million in 2016 and is projected to hit 115 million by 2050. Many phase 3 trials of various therapies have failed and we have no treatment currently available for the prevention or reduction of the course of dementia. A slow neurocognitive decline throughout life is part of the normal process of aging. However, there is a subset of individuals who may have accelerated aging and is at high risk of development dementia. If the course of such accelerated decline could be altered in any way, it would be important to evaluate. The role of diet with biologic aging has been studied and diet has been also found to be associated with age-related conditions linked to dementia, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. We were interested in the cognitive function of our participants who had another neurodegenerative disease, age-related macular degeneration (AMD). We had conducted two randomized controlled clinical trials designed to evaluate the role of oral supplements for the treatment of AMD. We also studied cognitive function in both clinical trials of nearly 8,000 participants who were followed for 10 years. We also evaluated the dietary habits of the participants with food frequency questionnaires (FFQ) at baseline. Cognitive function testing was conducted in the first study, the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) near the end of the clinical trial while the AREDS2, the second study, evaluated cognitive function testing at baseline and every 2 years until year 6. AREDS study evaluated cognitive function with in-clinic study visits while AREDS2 was conducted using telephone interviews. Our aim was to determine whether closer adherence to the alternative Mediterranean diet (aMED) was associated with impaired cognitive function these two studies. We were interested in the particular components of the Mediterranean diet that may be important. We also evaluated the interaction of genetics with the diet.    (more…)