Can Alzheimer’s Protect Against Cancer?

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According to research from the National Research Council of Milan, Italy, patients with Alzheimer’s disease have a lower risk of developing cancer, while seniors with cancer have lower chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to cancer-free patients of the same age. The study, reported in the journal Neurology and reported by Medical News Today, was lead by Dr. Massimo Musicco.

Musicco and his colleagues gathered and analyzed data on 204,468 citizens of northern Italy above the age of 60 over a period of six-years. During that time, 2,832 patients developed Alzheimer’s disease, and 21,451 developed cancer. But, only 161 patients developed both Alzheimer’s and and cancer. The researchers expected the number to be much higher, but instead found that Alzheimer’s patients are roughly half as likely to develop cancer, and cancer patients are 35% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

Interestingly, Alzheimer’s isn’t the only neurodegenerative disease that appears to lower the risk of developing cancer. An earlier study from the University of British Columbia showed that patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) were also less likely to develop cancer, in particular colorectal cancer.

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