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History of Cancer Associated With Lower Alzheimer’s Risk

Last Updated: December 24, 2009.

Caucasian older adults with Alzheimer's disease are less likely than their counterparts without the condition to have cancer, and Caucasian older adults with a history of cancer are less likely to have Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published online Dec. 23 in Neurology.

THURSDAY, Dec. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Caucasian older adults with Alzheimer's disease are less likely than their counterparts without the condition to have cancer, and Caucasian older adults with a history of cancer are less likely to have Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published online Dec. 23 in Neurology.

Catherine M. Roe, Ph.D., of the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, and colleagues analyzed data on 3,020 older adults aged 65 and above who were participating in the Cardiovascular Health Study-Cognition Sub-study. The participants were followed for a mean 5.4 years for dementia, and 8.3 years for cancer.

Subjects who developed Alzheimer's disease were less likely to be subsequently hospitalized for cancer, regardless of their demographic factors, smoking status, weight and level of physical activity, the researchers discovered. There was also an inverse association been prevalent cancer and risk of Alzheimer's disease, but this association only held for Caucasian subjects, and the sample size was too small to generate stable estimates. The authors also note that there was no association between cancer and subsequent risk of vascular dementia.

"The results add to and support the small amount of existing evidence suggesting an association between the development of cancer and Alzheimer disease among older adults, and suggest that cancer does not share a similar relationship with vascular dementia," the authors write. "Together with work linking the development of cancer and Parkinson disease these results suggest that the development of many cancers may be associated with the development of neurodegenerative disorders."

Several authors reported financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies.

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