KANSAS CITY, Kan., April 13 (UPI) -- Lean muscle mass, instead of body mass index or other measures of weight or fat levels, may be predictive of Alzheimer's disease, U.S. researchers said.
Dr. Jeffrey M. Burns of the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City, Kansas, and colleagues used dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry to assess body composition in 70 people age 60 and older without dementia.
They compared the result with 70 people with early stage Alzheimer's disease. In addition, the study participants also underwent brain magnetic resonance imaging and neuropsychological testing.
The study, published in the Archives of Neurology, found after controlling for gender lean mass -- the weight of an individual's bones, muscles and organs without body fat -- was reduced among patients with Alzheimer's disease compared with the controls who did not have Alzheimer's.
However, total body fat and body fat percentage were not different between individuals who had or did not have dementia.
"Although obesity in midlife is a risk factor for developing dementia, overweight and obesity in late life are associated with lower dementia risk," study authors said in statement.
"We observed a direct correlation between whole-brain volume and lean mass, suggesting that brain atrophy -- wasting away -- and loss of muscle mass may co-occur."