Alzheimer's, cancer less likely together
People with Alzheimer's disease are less likely to get cancer and people with cancer are less likely to develop Alzheimer's, U.S. researchers said.
People with Alzheimer's disease are less likely to get cancer and people with cancer are less likely to develop Alzheimer's, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.
Using data on more than 3,000 elderly volunteers, the researchers say they found that people who already had Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, were slower to develop cancer.
The study, published online in the journal Neurology, says there were people who had both diseases, but that was significantly less common than had been expected.
"We wanted to see whether there were inverse associations between the development of cancer and Alzheimer's," said Catherine Roe of Washington University in St. Louis, who led the study.
"What we found is that the people with Alzheimer's disease were less likely to be hospitalized for cancer compared to the people (without dementia) at the beginning of the study," Roe said in a telephone interview.
People who had Alzheimer's at the start of the study were 69 percent less likely to be hospitalized for cancer treatment than those who did not have Alzheimer's when the study began, the researchers concluded.
Roe and colleagues monitored 3,020 people aged 65 for eight years to see whether they developed dementia or cancer.
At the start of the study, 164 people already had Alzheimer's and 522 had cancer. During the study, 478 people developed dementia and 376 developed cancer.
During the same period, they monitored people who had a another type of dementia called vascular dementia, caused by blocked blood vessels in the brain.
Roe said no association was found between cancer and vascular dementia.
"What we hope is that if we ultimately find that there is a connection between Alzheimer's and cancer, that that will tell us more about the diseases and pinpoint some of the mechanisms that might be involved in both," Roe said.
She said such a finding could lead to new treatment for both diseases, she said.
Despite decades of research, there are few effective treatments and no cure for Alzheimer's. Many treatments that have shown promise in mice have had little effect on humans.
More than 35 million people globally will suffer from Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia in 2010, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
Reuters Last Mod: 23 Aralık 2009, 23:09