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AAN: Cholesterol, Lifestyle Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

Risk factors include high midlife cholesterol levels, history of heavy drinking and smoking

WEDNESDAY, April 16 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with elevated cholesterol levels in midlife are at increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, and patients with a history of consuming more than two alcoholic beverages per day or smoking more than one pack of cigarettes per day are at increased risk of developing earlier Alzheimer's disease, according to two studies presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Chicago.

In one study, Alina Solomon, M.D., of Kuopio University in Kuopio, Finland, and colleagues studied 9,752 patients who underwent detailed medical evaluations in 1964-1973 when they were aged 40 to 45, and identified 504 patients who were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease between 1994 and 2007. They found that high midlife cholesterol levels were independently associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease, with hazard ratios for the highest three quartiles of 1.52, 1.30 and 1.18, respectively.

In a second study, Dylan Harwood, of the University of Toronto in Toronto, Canada, and colleagues studied 568 white, 333 Hispanic and 37 black patients who were diagnosed with possible or probable Alzheimer's disease. They found that age of onset was reduced by 4.8 years in heavy drinkers, 2.3 years in heavy smokers and 8.5 years in heavy drinkers and smokers who carried the APOE e4 allele.

"Heavy drinking and smoking are associated with a reduced age-of-onset of late-onset Alzheimer's disease and are additive and roughly equivalent in strength to APOE e4 as risk factors," Harwood and colleagues conclude. "These data suggest that elimination of smoking and heavy drinking could substantially reduce the age-specific prevalence of late-onset Alzheimer's disease."

Abstract - Solomon
Abstract - Harwood

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