RESEARCH The public health message that frequent immersion in freezing water protects against the disease should not be interpreted as a correlation between swimming in cold water and dementia, the professor who led the study warned.
In the blood of daily winter swimmers at London’s Parliament Hill Lido, the researchers found significantly elevated levels of a “cold shock” protein, which they found can delay the development of dementia and even repair some of the damage in experiments with mice.
In hibernating mammals, whose brain connections are lost during the winter but recover when they wake up in the spring, the prorein, RBM3, has also been observed. However, up to this point, it had not been found in human blood.
All the swimmers, with core temperatures as low as 34 ° C, were hypothermic.
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Professor Giovanna Mallucci, who heads the University of Cambridge’s UK Dementia Research Institute center conducting the study, urged caution about the outcome.
“What you’re not going to get is that everyone who swims in cold water is protected against dementia,” she said.
I’m a scientist. I’m not here at all to promote any actions. I’m wary of being cold – it’s an urgent acute danger to people.
Nevertheless, she said, “These are things that contribute to factors that help repair brain cells.”
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Another study in Berlin showed that the same protein is produced by cooling heart patients during heart surgery, but Prof. Mallucci said the effect is likely to be temporary.
She said there was “no simple link” between the findings and countries such as Finland, where the advantages of a hot sauna followed by a cold dip or people living in colder climates are touted.
“She said, “There are all sorts of confounding variables affecting mortality.
We are what is called homeothermic, because as humans, whether we live in the Arctic Circle or the Sahara, we keep our body temperature at 37. People living in the Arctic Circle do not have a lower body temperature, and if they can help it, they do not freeze.
“We’re the crazy ones who go swimming in cold water; you wouldn’t catch an Eskimo doing that.”
She said that the crucial aspect of the analysis is the discovery of a protein that can help the brain heal itself.
“What is very exciting is that it takes advantage of the ability of the brain to repair itself,” she said.
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“We’re taking and amplifying anything that usually occurs. Are we going to make a medication out of it? I don’t know, but in the experimental model, it’s definitely really successful and that’s all we can tell.
The theory is that we have found the mechanism that leads to this protein, because cooling is risky and you can’t do it for long, and so the next step is to find a drug or a way to increase it that protects the brain.
The new research has confirmed what they conclude is a health-promoting pastime for open-water swimming advocates.
In order to expand access to the sport, Colin Campbell of Scottish Swimmer Open Water Swim Coaching is in the process of creating a social enterprise.
He said, “I very much welcome another piece of evidence-based research confirming what most open water swimmers already know: regular cold water swimming is good for physical and mental health.”
I would, however, advise those new to the sport to approach and learn from experienced swimmers or a coach with caution,”However, I would advise those new to the sport to approach with caution and learn from experienced swimmers or a coach,”
“I hope we will continue to see more scientific research demonstrating the incredible health benefits of the sport.”
“I’m sure there would be a willing army of volunteers.”
The results were accepted by Dr Sophie Bradley, who is part of the Scottish Dementia Study Consortium.
She said, “This exciting study follows an earlier discovery from the Mallucci laboratory, where researchers found that after cooling, a so-called ‘cold shock’ protein, RBM3, is responsible for stimulating the formation of new links between brain cells.”
This is a very early analysis, however, and it remains to be tested whether drugs to reduce P can be produced,