Published on: July 24, 2013
by Alzheimer’s Association:
The Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC)is the world’s largest and most prestigious conference of its kind. It brings together more than 5,000 researchers from around the world to report and discuss groundbreaking research and information on the cause, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Here are some of the highlights:
Most kinds of cancer associated with decreased risk of Alzheimer’s:
A very large study of about 3.5 million U.S. veterans indicated that surviving many kinds of cancer is associated with a significantly decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The study also suggested that chemotherapy treatment for almost all of those cancers conferred an additional decrease in Alzheimer’s risk. The challenge to researchers now is to determine whether or not this can give us new ideas to pursue for Alzheimer’s treatment.
Diabetes drug associated with reduced risk of dementia:
Research has shown us that type 2 diabetes may double the risk of dementia. However, a new study of nearly 15,000 type 2 diabetes patients age 55 and older suggests that people with diabetes who started on the drug metformin, an insulin sensitizer, had a significantly reduced risk of developing dementia compared with people who started other diabetes therapies. Again, we still need to determine in additional studies, what role—if any—this drug may have in Alzheimer’s treatment.
Older age at retirement at is associated with a reduced risk of dementia:
An analysis of health and insurance records of more than 420,000 self-employed workers in France found that retirement at older age is associated with a reduced risk of dementia, with a lower risk for each added year of working longer. The researchers suggested that professional activity may contribute to higher levels of mental stimulation and social engagement, which may be protective against dementia, though more research is needed in this area.
Self-reported changes in memory may be earliest clinical markers of Alzheimer’s:
A number of studies reported at AAIC provided evidence that subjective cognitive decline (SCD) — which is the self-reported perception of memory or cognition problems — may in fact be the first indication of future Alzheimer’s disease. This certainly does not mean that everyone who experiences memory changes is bound to get Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. It is very important now for scientists to determine what combination of symptoms and test results is the true indicator that Alzheimer’s disease is in someone’s future, and what changes are simply a part of the aging process. At AAIC 2013, an international group of Alzheimer’s researchers announced the formation of the Subjective Cognitive Decline Initiative (SCD-I) to develop a new research agenda for SCD.
Online tests for Alzheimer’s 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.
No evidence of benefit in population screening for dementia:
UK researchers reviewed a series of studies that looked at population screening for dementia and compared them with a routine pattern of care in the general population, among patients in general medical practice, and among patients in community care. The researchers found no evidence of the effect of community screening on patient outcomes including cognitive, mental and emotional health, social function and planning, and no indication of its added value compared to current practice. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends that people see their doctor for a thorough evaluation at the earliest signs of memory problems or changes. For the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s, visit www.alz.org.
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