People who have skin cancer may be less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to research published this week in Neurology®.
Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, followed 1,102 people who did not have dementia. They had an average age of 79 and were followed for an average of 3.7 years. 109 people reported that they had skin cancer in the past. During the study, 32 people developed skin cancer and 126 people developed dementia, including 100 with Alzheimer’s.
The study found that people who had skin cancer were nearly 80 per cent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than people who did not have skin cancer. Of the 141 people with skin cancer, two developed Alzheimer’s disease. The association was not found with other types of dementia, such as vascular dementia and the link does not apply to melanoma, a less common but more aggressive type of skin cancer. The author reported that the reason for the possible protective effect of skin cancer is not yet known.
Alzheimer’s Society comment:
‘This study is not suggesting that skin cancer should be considered as a preventative factor and we do not recommend that people stop taking measures to protect against sun exposure. However, the link between skin cancer and Alzheimer’s suggests that there may be interesting underlying factors that play a role in the development of both diseases. We need to further investigate these links to help us understand more about the causes of Alzheimer’s.
‘One in three people over 65 will develop dementia. More research is vital in order to unravel the underlying causes of all types of dementia and ultimately find a cure.’
Dr Doug Brown
Director of Research and Development
“Nonmelanoma skin cancer is associated with reduced Alzheimer disease risk”,
Robert S White et al.
Neurology, Wednesday 15 May 2013.
Source: Alzheimer’s Society