24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
(800)421-8825
Fax: (361)578-5500

Alzheimers Disease and other Cognitive Disorders
Resources
Basic Information
Introduction & Causes of Cognitive DisordersDementiaAlzheimer's DiseaseOther Cognitive DisordersDementia Coping Skills & Behavior ManagementTraumatic Brain Injury (TBI)Conclusion and Resources
More InformationLatest News
People Who Can't Read Face 2-3 Times Higher Dementia RiskEducation a Buffer Against Alzheimer's Among Blacks: StudyDown Syndrome Carries Raised Risk of Dementia by 55A Gene Kept One Woman From Developing Alzheimer's -- Could It Help Others?Number of Americans With Dementia Will Double by 2040: ReportIs Head Injury Causing Dementia? MRI Might ShowBanned Trans Fats Linked to Higher Dementia Risk: StudyFamily Can Help Keep Delirium at Bay After SurgeryPro Soccer Players More Likely to Develop Dementia: StudyDrug Limits Damage of Brain InjuryYour Personality as a Teen May Predict Your Risk of DementiaWhat Helps Calm Agitated Dementia Patients?AHA News: Growing – and Aging – Hispanic Population at Risk for DementiaAHA News: Yo-Yoing Blood Pressure Could Be Bad for Those With Alzheimer'sGive Seniors a Memory Check at Annual Checkups, Experts SayFor People at High Risk, Evidence That Exercise Might Slow Alzheimer'sDementia Caregivers Often Face Sleepless NightsHealth Tip: Dementia and DrivingGetting Hitched Might Lower Your Odds for DementiaHow You Can Help Head Off Alzheimer's DiseaseDeep Brain 'Zap' Restores Vivid Memories to Alzheimer's PatientsHow to Protect a Loved One With Dementia During a Heat WaveToo Much Napping May Signal Alzheimer'sDepression, Alzheimer's Might Be Part of Same Process in Some Aging Brains: StudyStay Social to Help Cut Your Odds of DementiaBlood Test May Spot Brain Changes of Early Alzheimer'sClues to Why Women Have Higher Odds for Alzheimer'sA New and Better Way to 'Stage' Alzheimer's Patients?At Risk for Alzheimer's? Exercise Might Help Keep It at BayHealthy Living Can Cut Odds for Alzheimer's in People at Genetic RiskHormone Treatment for Prostate Cancer Linked to Heightened Alzheimer's RiskAlzheimer's Genes Might Show Effects in Your 20sWidely Prescribed Class of Meds Might Raise Dementia RiskCancer Survivors May Have Lower Odds for DementiaCommon Blood Pressure Med Might Help Fight Alzheimer'sEducation, Intelligence Might Protect Your BrainOpioids Put Alzheimer's Patients at Risk of Pneumonia: StudyFor Some, Trouble Tracking Finances Could Be Sign of DementiaIt's Never Too Late for New Brain CellsHigh LDL Cholesterol Tied to Early-Onset Alzheimer'sDoes Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer Raise Dementia Risk?Could Alzheimer's Spread Like Infection Throughout the Brain?Newly Discovered Illness May Cause Nearly 1 in 5 Dementias, Experts SayFinancial Scammers Often Prey on People With Early DementiaMore Alzheimer's Drug Trial Failures: Are Researchers on the Wrong Track?Gum Disease Shows Possible Links to Alzheimer'sBrain Scans Spot, Track Alzheimer'sFewer Periods May Mean Higher Dementia RiskOnly Spoken Words Processed in Newly Discovered Brain RegionRate of U.S. Deaths Tied to Dementia Has More Than Doubled
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

Cancer Survivors May Have Lower Odds for Dementia

HealthDay News
by By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Jun 21st 2019

new article illustration

FRIDAY, June 21, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers have found more evidence of a puzzling phenomenon: Older adults who survive cancer seem to be somewhat protected against dementia.

A number of studies in recent years have found that cancer survivors have a relatively lower risk of developing Alzheimer's.

The new research adds another layer. It shows that even before their diagnosis, older adults who go on to develop cancer have an edge when it comes to memory performance.

Among the older Americans who were tracked for 16 years, those who developed cancer typically had sharper memory skills -- both before and after the diagnosis -- than those who remained cancer-free.

Researchers said it all supports the theory that some of the biological processes that contribute to cancer may actually protect against dementia.

But the big remaining question is, what are those mechanisms?

"We're really interested in understanding what [they] could be, because it might point the way to strategies to prevent dementia," said senior researcher Maria Glymour, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.

The study findings are based on more than 14,500 U.S. adults born before 1949. Between 1998 and 2014, they underwent periodic tests of memory function. During that time, 2,250 were newly diagnosed with cancer.

On average, the study found, the people with cancer consistently performed better on memory tests. In the decade before the cancer diagnosis, their memory declined at a 10.5% slower rate than their counterparts who remained cancer-free.

After the diagnosis, cancer patients did typically see a sudden worsening in their memory for a short time. But afterward, their rate of memory decline continued at the same pace as before the diagnosis -- which meant they maintained an advantage over cancer-free older adults.

There are theories as to why the pattern exists: Some of the mechanisms that allow cancer cells to grow and spread may, in the brain, protect cells from dying.

Glymour's team points to the example of an enzyme called PIN1: Its activity is enhanced in cancer, but decreased in Alzheimer's. Among other roles, the enzyme is thought to help prevent the buildup of abnormal proteins in the brain that are the hallmark of Alzheimer's.

But there is a lot of work to do before all the pieces can be put together, according to Glymour. One question is whether only certain cancer types are connected to a lower risk of memory decline and dementia.

In past studies, the link has been surprisingly consistent among different cancers, Glymour noted. "But," she said, "we think that might just be because there were not enough cases of different types of cancer to detect the differences."

If larger studies do show that only certain cancers are tied to slower memory decline, Glymour noted, that could give clues about the underlying reasons.

Dr. Olivia Okereke is director of geriatric psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She said the association between cancer and a lower risk of Alzheimer's is puzzling and "sounds counterintuitive" -- since cancer, and some cancer treatments, can actually take a toll on mental skills such as attention, information-processing and short-term memory.

"But these associations have been noted in studies for years now," said Okereke, who wrote an editorial accompanying the research. Both were published June 21 online in JAMA Network Open.

She called the new study a "very useful contribution," because it shows the memory advantage exists before people ever develop cancer, then persists afterward.

That, Okereke said, suggests that "common underlying mechanisms" might contribute to cancer while protecting brain cells.

"But we need more research to elucidate those mechanisms," she added.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more on the causes of Alzheimer's.