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Contributor: PR Newswire New York
Thursday, July 30 2020 - 15:20
From The Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2020: Alzheimer's Risk Factors May Be Measurable In Adolescents And Young Adults
CHICAGO, July 30, 2020 /PRNewswire-AsiaNet/--

Risk factors for Alzheimer's dementia may be apparent as early as our teens and 
20s, according to new research reported at the Alzheimer's Association 
International Conference(R) (AAIC(R)) ( 

Logo -  

These risk factors, many of which are disproportionately apparent in African 
Americans, include heart health factors - such as high blood pressure, high 
cholesterol and diabetes - and social factors like education quality. According 
to the Alzheimer's Association Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures ( 
) report, older African Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer's 
or other dementias as older whites.

"By identifying, verifying, and acting to counter those Alzheimer's risk 
factors that we can change, we may reduce new cases and eventually the total 
number of people with Alzheimer's and other dementia," said Maria C. Carrillo, 
Ph.D., Alzheimer's Association chief science officer. "Research like this is 
important in addressing health inequities and providing resources that could 
make a positive impact on a person's life."

"These new reports from AAIC 2020 show that it's never too early, or too late, 
to take action to protect your memory and thinking abilities," Carrillo said.

The Alzheimer's Association is leading the U.S. Study to Protect Brain Health 
Through Lifestyle Intervention to Reduce Risk (U.S. POINTER) ( 
), a two-year clinical trial to evaluate whether lifestyle interventions that 
simultaneously target many risk factors protect cognitive function in older 
adults who are at increased risk for cognitive decline. U.S. POINTER is the 
first such study to be conducted in a large, diverse group of Americans across 
the United States.

African American Youth At Higher Risk of Dementia
In a population of more than 714 African Americans in the Study of Healthy 
Aging in African Americans (STAR), Kristen George, Ph.D., MPH, of the 
University of California, Davis, and colleagues found that high blood pressure 
and diabetes, or a combination of multiple heart health-related factors, are 
common in adolescence and are associated with worse late-life cognition. Study 
participants were adolescents (n=165; ages 12-20), young adults (n=439; ages 
21-34) and adults (n=110; ages 35-56). Mean age at cognitive assessment was 68.

Cognition was measured using in-person tests of memory and executive function. 
The researchers found that, in this study population, having diabetes, high 
blood pressure, or two or more heart health risk factors in adolescence, young 
adulthood, or mid-life was associated with statistically significantly worse 
late-life cognition. These differences persisted after accounting for age, 
gender, years since risk factors were measured, and education.

Before this report, little was known about whether cardiovascular disease (CVD) 
risk factors developed prior to mid-life were associated with late-life 
cognition. This is an important question because African Americans have a 
higher risk of CVD risk factors compared to other racial/ethnic groups from 
adolescence through adulthood. 

According to the researchers, these findings suggest that CVD risk factors as 
early as adolescence influence late-life brain health in African Americans. 
Efforts to promote heart and brain healthy lifestyles must not only include 
middle-aged adults, but also younger adults and adolescents who may be 
especially susceptible to the negative impact of poor vascular health on the 

Early Adult BMI Associated With Late Life Dementia Risk
In what the authors say is the first study to report on the issue, higher early 
adulthood (age 20-49) body mass index (BMI) was associated with higher 
late-life dementia risk. 

Relatively little is known about the role of early life BMI on the risk of 
Alzheimer and other dementias. The scientists studied a total of 5,104 older 
adults from two studies, including 2,909 from the Cardiovascular Health Study 
(CHS) and 2,195 from the Health, Aging and Body Composition study (Health ABC). 
Of the total sample, 18% were Black and 56% were women. Using pooled data from 
four established cohorts spanning the adult life course, including the two 
cohorts under the study, the scientists estimated BMI beginning at age 20 for 
all older adults of CHS and Health ABC.

  -- For women, dementia risk increased with higher early adulthood BMI.
     Compared to women with normal BMI in early adulthood, dementia risk was
     1.8 times higher among those who were overweight, and 2.5 times higher
     among those who were obese. Analyses were adjusted for midlife and late
     life BMI. 
     -- They found no association between midlife BMI and dementia risk among
  -- For men, dementia risk was 2.5 times higher among those who were obese in
     early adulthood, 1.5 times higher among those who were overweight in mid
     life and 2.0 times higher among those who were obese in mid-life, in
     models also adjusted for late life BMI. 
  -- For both women and men, dementia risk decreased with higher late life BMI.

Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri, Ph.D. of Columbia University and colleagues found that 
high BMI in adulthood is a risk factor for dementia in late life. The 
researchers suggest that efforts aimed at reducing dementia risk may need to 
begin earlier in life with a focus on obesity prevention and treatment.  

Quality of Early-Life Education Influences Dementia Risk
In a diverse group of more than 2,400 people followed up to 21 years, higher 
quality early-life education was associated with better language and memory 
performance, and lower risk of late-life dementia. Results were somewhat 
different between men and women, and between Blacks and Whites in the study.

The study included 2,446 Black and White men and women, age 65 and older, 
enrolled in the Washington Heights/Inwood Columbia Aging Project who attended 
elementary school in the United States. A school quality variable based on 
historical measures included: mandatory school enrollment age, minimum dropout 
age, school term length, student-teacher ratio, and student attendance.

People who attended school in states with lower quality education had more 
rapid decline in memory and language as an older adult. Black women and men and 
White women who attended schools in states with higher quality education were 
less likely to develop dementia. According to the scientists, the results were 
explained, in part, because people who attend higher quality schools end up 
getting more years of school.

Justina Avila-Rieger, PhD, a postdoctoral research scientist at Columbia 
University Irving Medical Center and colleagues say the findings provide 
evidence that later life dementia risk and cognitive function is influenced by 
early-life state educational policies.

About the Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) 

The Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) is the world's 
largest gathering of researchers from around the world focused on Alzheimer's 
and other dementias. As a part of the Alzheimer's Association's research 
program, AAIC serves as a catalyst for generating new knowledge about dementia 
and fostering a vital, collegial research community. 

  -- AAIC 2020 home page:   
  -- AAIC 2020 newsroom:   
  -- AAIC 2020 hashtag: #AAIC20

About the Alzheimer's Association 
The Alzheimer's Association is a worldwide voluntary health organization 
dedicated to Alzheimer's care, support and research. Our mission is to lead the 
way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia - by accelerating global 
research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality 
care and support. Visit or call + 1 800.272.3900. 

  -- Kristen George, PhD, MPH, et al. Cardiovascular risk factors in
     adolescence and adulthood and late-life cognition: Study of healthy aging
     in African Americans (STAR). (Funder(s): U.S. National Institute on
  -- Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri, PhD, et al. Association of early life BMI with
     dementia risk: Findings from a pooled cohort analysis. (Funder(s): U.S.
     National Institute on Aging) 
  -- Justina Avila-Rieger, et al. Relationship between state-level
     administrative school quality data, years of education, cognitive decline,
     and dementia risk. (Funder(s): U.S. National Institute on Aging)

SOURCE:  Alzheimer’s Association

CONTACT: Alzheimer's Association Media Line

         AAIC 2020 Press Office