The Norman Transcript

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July 21, 2013

Research reported at Alzheimer’s conference

NORMAN — New studies reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2013 in Boston cover the spectrum of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia research, including novel treatment and prevention strategies, possible new risk factors, advances in early detection and diagnosis, and an updated model of disease progression.

· Potential Alzheimer’s risk factors: A study of the health records 3.5 million U.S. veterans indicated that most kinds of cancer are associated with a significantly decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Results suggested that chemotherapy treatment for almost all of those cancers conferred an additional decrease in Alzheimer’s risk.

Researchers found no association between cancer history and reduced risk of any other typical age-related health outcome; most cancer survivors were found to be at increased risk for non-Alzheimer’s dementia. The scientists concluded that the findings indicate the protective relationship between most cancers and Alzheimer’s disease is not explained simply by increased mortality.

· Diabetes drug associated with reduced risk of dementia: Type 2 diabetes may double the risk of dementia. However, in a study of nearly 15,000 type 2 diabetes patients age 55 and older, patients who started on metformin had a significantly reduced risk of developing dementia compared with patients who started other standard diabetes therapies.

· Older age at retirement at associated with reduced risk of dementia: An analysis of health and insurance records of more than 429,000 self-employed workers in France found that retirement at older age is associated with a reduced risk of dementia. The researchers suggested that professional activity may contribute to higher levels of intellectual stimulation and mental engagement.

· Socioeconomic factors may explain higher Alzheimer’s risk in African Americans: In the United States, older African-Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s and other dementias as older whites. But in a study of 3,075 black and white elders who were free of dementia at the beginning of the study, the risk difference was no longer statistically significant after researchers adjusted for socioeconomic factors including education level, literacy, income and financial adequacy.

· Online tests do not measure up: A panel of Canadian experts reviewed 16 freely accessible online tests for Alzheimer’s disease and found that the tests scored poorly on scales of overall scientific validity, reliability and ethical factors. Twelve tests scored “poor” or “very poor” for overall scientific validity and reliability. All tests scored “poor” or “very poor” on the evaluation criteria for ethical factors.

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