From a recently published artilce in the May 2013 online issue of Neurology, a leading medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, researchers in Minneapolis reported a study where 1,102 participants with average age of 79 years, were followed for the span of 3.7 years, were tested to see if ever they developed dementia. At the start of the study, 109 of the patients admitted to having skin cancer in the past. During the study trials, 32 people developed skin cancer, and 125 people developed dementia, including 100 people with Alzheimer’s dementia.
    At the end of the testing period, of the 141 participants who developed skin cancer, only two of them also developed Alzheimer’s dementia. Resulting statistics showed that participants who developed skin cancer were around 80 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease versus those who did not develop skin cancer. There was no link found between Melanoma, a less common but powerful form of skin cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Nor was there a link with any other forms of dementia. The links were limited only to Alzheimer’s dementia and weaker forms of skin cancer.
    Reviewing commentary of study author Richard B Lipton, MD, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York,  stated that the protective effects of skin cancer were still unknown. However, there was a strong tendency to link physical activity protecting against dementia, and outdoor activities leading to a higher UV exposure from the sun, leading to a greater chance of skin cancer. Further insight guided Lipton to suggest genetic factors as a possible link between the two diseases, as the study showed that physical activity alone did not reduce the risk levels of Alzheimer’s to a meaningful level. More testing is surely needed, but this is a promising step in the right direction.

By Lauren Horne

Sources:    
    R. S. White, R. B. Lipton, C. B. Hall, J. R. Steinerman. Nonmelanoma skin cancer is associated with reduced Alzheimer disease risk. Neurology, 2013; 80 (21): 1966 DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182941990
    American Academy of Neurology (AAN) (2013, May 15). Skin cancer may be linked to lower risk of Alzheimer's disease. ScienceDaily.
 


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