A protein that can prevent dementia was found in winter swimmers at the Hampstead Heath pool.
Researchers from Cambridge University believe that a protein called cold shock holds the key to treatments that delay the onset of aging.
A protein, called RBM3, was discovered when the rat’s body was cooled to the point of hypothermia. Protein is activated and protects the brain. The question is, how does hypothermia in humans affect the body?
A group of people who enjoy swimming in cold water in winter in Parliament Hill, London, volunteered to participate in the study. They swam during the three winters, from 2016 to 2018. As a result, the scientists found significant amounts of the RBM3 protein in many volunteers.
Giovanna Mallucci, deputy director of the UK University of Cambridge’s Dementia Research Institute, said hypothermia was also used to protect the brains of patients and infants during some surgical procedures.
The RBM3 protein helps in treating dementia by fighting the destruction of nerve synapses that occur early in the disease. Synapse is a coupling that conducts signals between nerve cells.
Previously, research from the University of Leicester in 2015 showed that mice without degeneration were able to restore synape when from hypothermia back to normal while mice with degenerative disease did not. At the same time, high levels of the RBM3 protein were only seen in the recovered rats, suggesting that this protein plays an important role in recovery.
An experiment that later actively increased RBM3 levels in rats showed that protein can prevent brain cells from dying in the early stages of degenerative diseases.
Professor Mallucci hopes detection of this protein in cold-water swimmers could open up treatments, by using RBM3 against degeneration.
Cold water swimming became popular in the UK. Many people joined during social distance. NOWCA, which promotes safe swimming in the water, says 110,000 swimmers at 40 NOWCA locations are operating this summer, which is an 85% increase from 2019.
Experts warn beginners to swim to learn how to stay safe while exercising in cold water. Because it can cause a shock to the body, leading to bad reactions, even death.