-Dr. Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC
According to a new study published on December 23, 2009, in the online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, people having Alzheimer’s disease may be less likely to develop cancer and vice versa. Study author Catherine M. Roe, PhD, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, who is also a member of the American Academy of Neurology said that, “Discovering the links between these two conditions may help understand both diseases better and seek possible treatments.”
To see whether people developed dementia in an average of five years and cancer in an average of eight years, researchers observed and studied a group of 3,020 people, enrolled in the Cardiovascular Health Study, aged 65 and older. When the study began, 164 people (5.4 percent) already had Alzheimer’s disease and 522 people (17.3 percent) already had been diagnosed with cancer.
However, during the study, 478 people developed dementia and 376 people developed invasive cancer. The risk of being hospitalized in future for cancer was reduced by 69 percent for people who had Alzheimer’s disease at the beginning of the study compared to those who did not have Alzheimer’s disease when the study began. Although there was no evidence of this finding in minority groups, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease was reduced by 43 percent for Caucasian people who already had cancer when the study started, unlike the people who did not have cancer at the start of the study.
The National Institutes of Health, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute on Aging, the National Center for Research Resources, and the Washington University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center supported the study. Dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care, the American Academy of Neurology is an association of more than 21,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals. A doctor with specialized training in diagnosis, treatment and management of brain disorders and nervous system such as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, is a neurologist.