Middle-aged women with high levels of a specific amino acid in their blood are twice as likely to suffer from Alzheimer's many years later, reveals a thesis from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. This discovery could lead to a new and simple way of determining who is at risk long before there are any signs of the illness.
The thesis is based on the Prospective Population Study of Women in Gothenberg, which was started at the end of the 1960s when almost 1,500 women between the ages of 38 and 60 were examined, asked questions about their health and had blood samples taken. Nearly all of the samples have now been analysed and compared with information on who went on to suffer from Alzheimer's and dementia much later.
"Alzheimer's disease was more than twice as common among the women with the highest levels of homocysteine than among those with the lowest, and the risk for any kind of dementia was 70 per cent higher," says doctor Dimitri Zylberstein, author of the thesis.