“Studies have shown that people with Alzheimer’s disease are less likely to develop cancer, but we don’t know the reason for that link,” study author Dr. Julian Benito-Leon of University Hospital in Madrid, said in a statement. “One possibility is that cancer is under diagnosed in people with dementia, possibly because they are less likely to mention their symptoms or caregivers and doctors are focused on the problems caused by dementia. The current study helps us discount that theory.”
The study involved 2,627 people age 65 and older in Spain who did not have dementia at the beginning of the study. The study subjects took tests of memory and thinking skills at the start of the study. They were tested again three years later, and were tracked for an average of almost 13 years.
The participants were divided into three groups: those whose scores on the thinking tests were declining the fastest, those whose scores improved on the tests, and those in the middle.
The study, published in the online issue of Neurology, found those in the fastest declining group were 30 percent less likely to die of cancer after factoring in smoking, diabetes, heart disease and other risk factors.
“We need to understand better the relationship between a disease that causes abnormal cell death and one that causes abnormal cell growth,” Benito-Leon said. “With the increasing number of people with both dementia and cancer, understanding this association could help us better understand and treat both diseases.”
[ Neurology ]
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