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A new report shows that there is a link between the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease and heavy smoking and drinking.

Ranjan Duara, MD, Wien Center for Alzheimer’s Disease, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Miami Beach, Florida, studied 938 people age 60 and older. All participants had been diagnosed with possible/probable Alzheimer’s disease. Information of the participant’s history of drinking and smoking was obtained from family members.

  • 7% of the participants had a history of heavy drinking (2 or more drinks per day).
  • 20% of the participants had a history of heavy smoking (1 or more packs a day).
  • 27% had the APOE variant gene associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Heavy drinkers developed Alzheimer’s 4.8 years earlier than non-heavy drinkers.
  • Heavy smokers developed Alzheimer’s 2.3 years earlier than non-heavy smokers.
  • People with the APOE variant gene (associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s), were heavy smokers and drinkers, developed Alzheimer’s 8.5 years earlier.

Of the 938 people in the study the 17 people with all 3 risk factors (APOE variant gene, heavy smoker, and heavy drinker) developed Alzheimer’s at an average age of 68.5 years. The 374 people in the study with none of the risk factors developed Alzheimer’s at an average age of 77 years.

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