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Alzheimer's linked to drinking

New research into Alzheimer's has found that the disease develops years earlier in heavy drinkers, smokers and the middle-aged with high cholesterol.

The lifestyle links to Alzheimer's were discovered in two separate studies presented to neurologists in the US.

One team looked at 938 people aged 60 and older who were diagnosed with possible or probable Alzheimer's disease.

Information was gathered from family members on the patients' drinking and smoking history.

The study found people who drank more than two units a day developed Alzheimer's nearly five years earlier than non-heavy drinkers, on average.

People smoking 20 cigarettes a day developed the disease 2.3 years sooner than patients who smoked less or were non-smokers.

Participants with a particular mutant form of the gene ApoE showed symptoms of Alzheimer's three years earlier than those without the gene variant.

Patients with all three risk factors developed Alzheimer's 8.5 years sooner than those with none.

Study leader Dr Ranjan Duara, from the Wien Centre for Alzheimer's Disease at Mount Sinai Medical Centre, Florida, said: "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."

A separate team of Finnish and US scientists also announced results at the same American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting in Chicago.

They found individuals with total cholesterol levels of between 249 and 500 milligrams were one and a half times more likely to develop Alzheimer's than those with cholesterol levels of less than 198 milligrams.

American Academy of Neurology

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