Alzheimer's starts earlier for heavy drinkers, smokers

Apr 16, 2008

Heavy drinkers and heavy smokers develop Alzheimer’s disease years earlier than people with Alzheimer’s who do not drink or smoke heavily, according to research that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology 60th Anniversary Annual Meeting in Chicago, April 12–19, 2008.

“These results are significant because it’s possible that if we can reduce or eliminate heavy smoking and drinking, we could substantially delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease for people and reduce the number of people who have Alzheimer’s at any point in time,” said study author Ranjan Duara, MD, of the Wien Center for Alzheimer’s Disease at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, FL, and Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology.

“It has been projected that a delay in the onset of the disease by five years would lead to a nearly 50-percent reduction in the total number of Alzheimer’s cases,” said Duara. “In this study, we found that the combination of heavy drinking and heavy smoking reduced the age of onset of Alzheimer’s disease by six to seven years, making these two factors among the most important preventable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.”

The study looked at 938 people age 60 and older who were diagnosed with possible or probable Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers gathered information from family members on drinking and smoking history and determined whether the participants had the alpha4 gene variant of the APOE gene, which increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. People with the alpha4 variant also develop Alzheimer’s at an earlier age than those who do not have the gene variant.

Seven percent of the study participants had a history of heavy drinking, which was defined as more than two drinks per day. Twenty percent had a history of heavy smoking, which was defined as smoking one pack of cigarettes or more per day. And 27 percent had the APOE alpha4 variant.

Researchers found that people who were heavy drinkers developed Alzheimer’s 4.8 years earlier than those who were not heavy drinkers. Heavy smokers developed the disease 2.3 years sooner than people who were not heavy smokers. People with APOE alpha4 developed the disease three years sooner than those without the gene
variant.

Adding the risk factors together led to earlier onset of the disease. People who had all three risk factors developed the disease 8.5 years earlier than those with none of the risk factors. The 17 people in the study with all three risk factors developed Alzheimer’s at an average age of 68.5 years; the 374 people with none of the three risk factors developed the disease at an average age of 77 years.

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Explore further: Researchers discover target for treating dengue fever

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Physics makes a big impact in brain-injury research

Apr 02, 2013

From battlefields to playing fields, worries over traumatic brain injury (TBI) have intensified recently as it has become clear that heavy knocks to the head – whether from bomb detonations or crunching sports tackles – ...

How microbes take out the trash

May 10, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The molecular machinery bacteria use to rid themselves of toxic substances including antimicrobial drugs has been studied in detail by a UA-led team of researchers. A better understanding ...

Recommended for you

Researchers discover target for treating dengue fever

4 hours ago

Two recent papers by a University of Colorado School of Medicine researcher and colleagues may help scientists develop treatments or vaccines for Dengue fever, West Nile virus, Yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and other ...

Tracking flu levels with Wikipedia

4 hours ago

Can monitoring Wikipedia hits show how many people have the flu? Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital, USA, have developed a method of estimating levels of influenza-like illness in the American population by analysing ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Turning off depression in the brain

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

Researchers discover target for treating dengue fever

Two recent papers by a University of Colorado School of Medicine researcher and colleagues may help scientists develop treatments or vaccines for Dengue fever, West Nile virus, Yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and other ...

Our brains are hardwired for language

A groundbreaking study published in PLOS ONE by Prof. Iris Berent of Northeastern University and researchers at Harvard Medical School shows the brains of individual speakers are sensitive to language univer ...

Study recalculates costs of combination vaccines

One of the most popular vaccine brands for children may not be the most cost-effective choice. And doctors may be overlooking some cost factors when choosing vaccines, driving the market toward what is actually a more expensive ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...