Finds Low Alzheimer's
Risk in Rural India
YORK (Reuters Health) - The elderly in rural India face a much
lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease than older Americans
do, new study findings suggest.
is unclear, but researchers speculate that genetic and environmental
factors may help explain the disparity.
of nearly 2,700 older Indians from villages in one northern state
showed that their rate of Alzheimer's was far lower than that
among older adults in one region of Pennsylvania. Over 2 years,
there were fewer than 5 Alzheimer's cases per 1,000 Indians each
year--in contrast to more than 17 cases per 1,000 Americans.
Dr. Mary Ganguli
and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh report the findings
in the September issue of Neurology.
work, the Pennsylvania researchers had found that these same Indian
villages have the lowest reported prevalence of Alzheimer's in
the world. About 1% of adults aged 65 and older were found to
have the disease.
In this study,
the investigators tracked how many new cases arose over 2 years
among residents aged 55 and older. Participants took mental exams
and their daily functioning was gauged through interviews with
family members. Those who showed signs of dementia were examined
further to diagnose possible or probable Alzheimer's disease.
In the end, there were 10 such cases.
parallel a study released earlier this year in which older Nigerians
were found to have about half the Alzheimer's risk of African
Americans living in Indianapolis, Indiana. In that study, the
researchers speculated that the Nigerians' better vascular health--indicated
by their lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and body weight--could
help explain their lower Alzheimer's rate. Some studies have suggested
that these and other factors that affect heart health can also
influence the brain's susceptibility to disease.
the Pittsburgh team speculates that this Indian population either
lacks certain risk factors for Alzheimer's or may have unknown
protective factors related to diet or other environmental exposures.
the report indicates that the population had a low frequency of
a gene variant called apoE4--a known risk factor for Alzheimer's.
and colleagues note, ``we urge caution in the interpretation and
generalization of our results.''
For one, they
explain, problems in daily activities that would suggest the beginnings
of dementia might have been missed by family members.
functional demands on older adults in rural India are limited
by their living with, and being cared for, by their family members,''
the authors write. ``Further, they live in a 'low-tech' environment
that does not include, for example, the daily use of telephones,
bank accounts, or supermarkets.''
possibility that this population has ``unique protective factors''
against Alzheimer's should be tested in future studies, the researchers
Reference Source 89
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