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Nun Study Hits National Spotlight

Articles about the Nun Study and Dr. David Snowdon's new book Aging with Grace: What the Nun Study Teaches Us About Leading Longer, Healthier and More Meaningful Lives, (Bantam)  have appeared in several national publications including the May 14, 2001, issue of Time magazine and the May 7, 2001, edition of the New York Times.

LEXINGTON, KY (May 7, 2001) -- The Nun Study, housed at the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, has hit the national spotlight in a big way.

The study is the cover story of Time magazine this week and on the cover of the New York Times today.  Stories also will appear on various national news programs in the coming weeks.

The study, which is led by David Snowdon, Ph.D., professor of neurology in the UK College of Medicine, is in the national – and international – spotlight as a result of  Snowdon’s new book, Aging With Grace: What the Nun Study Teaches Us About Leading Longer, Healthier and More Meaningful Lives.

In the book, Snowdon offers a behind-the-scenes look at this landmark scientific study and the women who made it possible.  The book will be available tomorrow, May 8.

Since 1986, Snowdon has led an ongoing research program that is profoundly changing the way we view aging.  Known as the Nun Study, Snowdon’s project involves 678 members of the School Sisters of Notre Dame religious congregation in seven convents across the United States.  The sisters, who range in age from 75 to 106, have allowed unprecedented access to their personal and medical histories and undergo rigorous annual mental and physical testing.

Perhaps most remarkably, each nun also has pledged to donate her brain for Snowdon’s research after she dies.  With one of the largest pools of brain donors in the world, the Nun Study has yielded groundbreaking information about what we can do to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and live active, productive lives well into old age.

“Aging is not the cause of the health problems of old age,” Snowdon writes.  “Disease is the culprit.”

Through microscopic studies of the brains of those who have died, and through painstaking assessments of genetics, education, lifestyle, diet, personality differences — and even the number of dental fillings a sister has — the Nun Study has untangled important clues to a longer, healthier life. 

Both leading-edge science and a practical plan for prevention, Aging With Grace shows that old age does not mean an inevitable slide into illness and disability; rather it can be a time of promise and productivity, intellectual and spiritual vigor — a time of true grace.

One of the world’s leading experts on Alzheimer’s disease, Snowdon has presented his findings at scientific conferences throughout North America and Europe and has been published in such major medical journals as The Journal of the American Medical Association and The Journal of Gerontology.  Half of Dr. Snowdon’s proceeds from Aging With Grace will be donated to the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

The Nun Study is funded primarily through grants from the National Institute on Aging.

~ By Vikki Franklin

Comments to Betsy Hall, Last Modified: October 14, 2003
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