ABC News (December 23, 2009): Alzheimer's May Guard Against Cancer and Vice Versa

Publication Date: 
Wed, 12/23/2009

People with Alzheimer's disease may be less apt to get cancer and people with cancer may be less apt to get Alzheimer's disease, new research hints.

"Discovering the links between these two conditions may help us better understand both diseases and open up avenues for possible treatments," Dr. Catherine M. Roe of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, noted in a written statement from the American Academy of Neurology.

According to a report published today in the academy's journal Neurology, Roe and her team studied 3,020 people age 65 and older. These individuals were followed for an average of five years to see whether they developed dementia and an average of eight years to see whethery they developed cancer.

At the start of the study, 164 people (5.4 percent) already had Alzheimer's disease and 522 people (17.3 percent) already had a cancer diagnosis. During the study, 478 people developed dementia and 376 people developed cancer.