Research Snapshot: Cancer diagnosis is associated with a lower burden of dementia and less Alzheimer’s-type neuropathology

Cancer and Alzheimer’s disease are common diseases in aging populations. According to prior research, there is a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease-type (amnestic) dementia among individuals with cancer. Both cancer and amnestic dementia are prevalent and potentially lethal clinical syndromes.

This current study led by Shama D. Karanth, Ph.D., published in Oxford Academic titled, “Cancer diagnosis is associated with a lower burden of dementia and less Alzheimer’s-type neuropathology,” was conducted to investigate the association of cancer diagnosis with neuropathological and cognitive features of dementia.

Dr. Karanth has a broad and rigorous doctoral-level training in biostatistics and epidemiology. She received her PhD in epidemiology and biostatistics from the University of Kentucky.

Her current research focuses on the application of causal inference methods in the field of aging epidemiology. As an epidemiologist, Dr. Karanth believes that prevention is crucial to reduce the burden of diseases in advanced ages.

“Cancer and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) share a complex inverse relation, and there is growing evidence suggesting that there is a lower burden of AD among cancer survivors,” said Shama Karanth, Ph.D. “However, the underlying mechanisms remain to be explained, and understanding the relation of cancer to specific neuropathologies—rather than clinical diagnoses of dementia—may provide new insights to treatments of both the diseases.”

During this studydata was analyzed from longitudinally evaluated participants in a community-based cohort study of brain aging who came to autopsy at the University of Kentucky Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. This data was linked to the Kentucky Cancer Registry, a population-based state cancer surveillance system, to obtain cancer-related data. Dr. Karanth’s team examined the relationship between cancer diagnosis, clinical dementia diagnosis, Mini-Mental State Examination scores and neuropathological features using inverse probability weighting to address bias due to confounding and missing data.


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