Heavy drinkers, smokers early victims of Alzheimer’s

April 17th, 2008 - 11:56 am ICT by admin  

Washington, April 17 (IANS) Heavy drinkers and smokers develop Alzheimer’s disease years earlier than those who stay away from alcohol and tobacco, according to a study. The study looked at 938 people aged 60 or above who were diagnosed with possible or probable Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers gathered information from family members on drinking and smoking history and determined whether the participants had the a4 gene variant of the APOE gene, which increases the risk of Alzheimer’s.

People with the a4 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 a4 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 a4 developed the disease three years sooner than those without the gene variant.

“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, of Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami.

These findings will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology in Chicago.

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