Science

Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer May Lower Alzheimer's Disease Risk

By Enozia Vakil , May 17, 2013 08:44 AM EDT
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Results from a new study revealed a shocking discovery; patients suffering from skin cancer are at a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease during their lifetime. This study, led by researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, claims that older individuals in particular, having a history of basal cell carcinoma, have a whopping 80 percent lesser risk of developing the much-dreaded Alzheimer's disease.

"The theoretical basis for thinking that there could be a relationship comes from the fact that Alzheimer's and cancer are opposites kind of disorders in terms of cell division," lead author Dr. Richard Lipton, of Albert Einstein College and a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, told FoxNews.

"What I mean by that is that in Alzheimer's, specific populations of cells simply die, while in cancer, the cells divide and divide and become nearly immortal. So there's a notion that individuals who have a tendency towards this cell division may have protection against Alzheimer's," he explains.

Around 1,102 individuals were taken for the study, most of them 60-years-old or more. 109 of the study subjects had been previously diagnosed with skin cancer and during the course of the study, 32 of them developed this condition. Also, 126 of the study subjects fell prey to dementia, 100 of which progressed to Alzheimer's disease. Surprisingly, only 2 of those suffering from skin cancer got affected by Alzheimer's, implying that skin cancer patients were at an 80 percent lesser risk of developing Alzheimer's.

"Those who had nonmelanoma skin cancer had a dramatically reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease over several years of follow-up," Lipton told Medscape Medical News. "The question is, why."

One of the biggest risk factors for developing skin cancer is exposure to the sun, which is why researchers are speculating that a good exposure to sun, with optimum vitamin D levels and good physical activity, may all be responsible for the higher risk of skin cancer, and a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease.

This, however, does not imply throwing away the sunscreen bottles and unprotected exposure to the sun. Once the researchers better understand what actually resulted in the decreased risk of Alzheimer's disease development, preventive measures would accordingly hit the markets.

 

 

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