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Study: Patients with Certain Kinds of Skin Cancer Have Low Odds of Alzheimer's

Posted: June 12, 2013
Relationship between skin cancer and Alzheimer's

A new study, published in the May 2013 issue of the Journal of Neurology suggests that people with certain kinds of skin cancer have lower odds of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Objective

Researchers set out to explore the association of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) and Alzheimer disease (AD) in the Einstein Aging Study, an epidemiologic study of aging in New York City.

Methods

Community-residing volunteers aged 70 years or older were assessed annually, followed by multidisciplinary diagnostic consensus. Cancer status and type was obtained by self-report. Cox proportional hazards models were used to test associations between NMSC and subsequent risk of developing a neurocognitive disorder. To deduce a biologically specific association between AD and NMSC, they considered three nested outcomes groups: only AD (probable or possible AD as the sole diagnosis), any AD (probable AD or possible AD, as well as mixed AD/vascular dementia), and all-cause dementia.

Results

They followed 1,102 adults with a mean age of 79 years at enrollment. Prevalent NMSC was associated with reduced risk of only AD (hazard ratio = 0.21; 95% confidence interval = 0.051–0.87; p = 0.031) among subjects after adjustment for demographics, hypertension, diabetes, and coronary heart disease. APOE ε4 genotypes were available in 769 individuals. The association was similar in magnitude, but nonsignificant, when the number of APOE ε4 alleles was included in the model. No significant association was found between NMSC and subsequent development of any AD or all-cause dementia.

Conclusion

This population-based longitudinal study shows that individuals older than 70 years with NMSC have a significantly reduced risk of developing AD compared with individuals without NMSC. We deduce Alzheimer-specific neuroprotection, because the effect is attenuated or eliminated when considering less-specific diagnoses such as AD with another diagnosis (any AD) or all-cause dementia.

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