Through the power of DanCE, we can change the Face of Alzheimer’s
11th Mar


Fancy footwork fighting Alzheimer’s

A foundation for research is looking to fight Alzheimer’s disease through an unexpected activity: ballroom dancing.

The Beverly McCombs Foundation – Dance for Cognitive Enhancement (DanCE) is trying to build on a study that saw evidence that dancing could reduce the risk of dementia.

The fourth annual USA Dance Orange County President’s Ball and Fund Raiser for Alzheimer’s Research held at the Nixon Presidential Library & Museum on Sunday brought attention to the foundation’s efforts and raised almost $25,000 to help fund further research of the study.

Bruce McCombs, chairman of the President’s Ball, started the foundation after his mother, Beverly McCombs, lost her nine-year struggle with Alzheimer’s in 2009. “I thought, maybe a way to recognize and memorialize my mother is to create a foundation.”

“I enjoy ballroom dancing, and I’m passionate about Alzheimer’s and finding non-drug related solutions for it,” said McCombs, a  former competitive ballroom dancer.

He cited the 21-year-old study, “Leisure Activity and the Risk of Dementia,” as part of his inspiration to further research dancing as a remedy.

Dr. Joe Verghese of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York participated in a retrospective analysis of the previous study and has been elected by the Beverly McCombs Foundation to continue research efforts.

The study evaluated various activities including walking, dancing, tennis, house work and swimming, Verghese said. “The only one that turned out to have a reduced risk of dementia was dancing.”

The foundation’s fundraising will allow Verghese and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine to continue the 21-year-old study into potentially breaking new ground.  “The study is not drug-related. It’s more of a lifestyle, physical activity focused study.”

Right now, (dancing) makes a lot of sense anecdotally, but there are almost no studies that show how dance can change the neuro-pathways in the brain and until the study is completed, we won’t have the scientific proof we need. That’s why the study is so important.

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