A new study suggests that elderly people suffering from Alzheimer´s have 50 per cent less possibilities of having Cancer than others of the same age. Somehow, cancer protects against getting Alzheimer´s and vice-versa.
The results have been confirmed by a team of scientists from the National Research Council of Italy´s Institute of Biomedical Technologies in Milan; the findings were published today in the journal Neurology.
The study shows that people diagnosed with Alzheimer´s were found to have a 43 % lower risk of having cancer in comparison with patients without it; the same occurs to people with cancer, whom have 35% less chance of developing Alzheimer´s, the study included 25, 000 residents of the Italian city of Milan.
The new findings will be widely discussed in the upcoming Alzheimer´s Association International Conference in Boston, starting next weekend. Around 4, 500 researchers from 66 countries will be meeting in the Alzheimer´s annual conference, the topics to talk about are, early detection, imaging and treatment.
Magazine Neurology says that both, Cancer and Alzheimer´s are characterized by abnormal, but opposing cellular behavior. In Alzheimer´s, cell death increased, whereas excessive cell growth happens in cancer. Until now nobody knows exactly why patients with Alzheimer´s have less risk of developing cancer and vice versa.
The project leader, Dr. Massimo Mussico, explains that the answer might be related to the set of genes in each patient, meaning that if you have one set of genes, you are likely to accept one or the other, not both. He said, “Cancer and Alzheimer´s have been viewed by researchers as completely separate.”
However, not all types of cancer have the same protection against Alzheimer´s, for instance, prostate cancer. The study found an association which doesn´t mean that one disease is responsible for causing a reduced risk of developing the other.
Catherine Roe, of Washington University School of Medicine; and Dr. Maria Behrens, of Hospital Clínico Universidad de Chile, said in a statement in the same study, “this knowledge may help in gaining a better understanding of and developing new treatments for both diseases.”
The study was very profound and analyzed more than 204, 000 people age 60 and older in Italy, the study lasted for six years. In the study, 21, 451 people were diagnosed with cancer, while 2, 832 were diagnosed with Alzheimer´s. Those numbers include the 161 people who were diagnosed with cancer and Alzheimer´s.
The study suggests the same result among people who died during the study and those who lived, which means that early death among people who acquired one disease and die resulted in inconclusive evidence.
Dr. Janet Driver, who studies aging at Brigham and Women´s Hospital in Boston, explains that some data suggests that Parkinson´s disease is tied to a lower risk of cancer. “I´m hoping this will then convince all the doubters that there is a true inverse association between Alzheimer´s, Parkinson´s and probably some other neurologic diseases and cancer”, Dr. Driver said to Reuters Health.
The conclusion is that Alzheimer´s patients have less risk of developing cancer and vice versa. However, the results were not related to other factors, such as smoking, physical or brain activity.
By: Oskar Guzman.
Special correspondent Mexico City.