Skin cancer may be linked to lower risk of Alzheimer's disease

People who have skin cancer may be less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease, according to new research published in the May 15, 2013, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The link does not apply to melanoma, a less common but more aggressive type of skin cancer.

The study involved 1,102 people with an average age of 79 who did not have at the start of the study. The participants were followed for an average of 3.7 years. At the start of the study, 109 people reported that they had skin cancer in the past. During the study, 32 people developed skin cancer and 126 people developed dementia, including 100 with Alzheimer's dementia.

People who had skin cancer were nearly 80 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than people who did not have skin cancer. Of the 141 people with skin cancer, two developed Alzheimer's disease. The association was not found with other types of dementia, such as .

Study author Richard B. Lipton, MD, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, NY, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, said the reason for this possible protective effect of skin cancer is not yet known. "One possible explanation could be physical activity," he said. "Physical activity is known to protect against dementia, and outdoor activity could increase exposure to , which increases the risk of skin cancer."

Lipton said including likely also play a role, as physical activity does not reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease to the extent found in the link between skin cancer and Alzheimer's disease.

The findings do not mean that people should stop taking measures to avoid , Lipton said. "People should continue to wear sunscreen, avoid the sun during midday and wear clothing to protect their skin," he said. "The hope is that these results help us learn more about how Alzheimer's develops so we can create better preventive methods and treatments."

Related Stories

Alzheimer's disease may protect against cancer and vice versa

Dec 23, 2009

People who have Alzheimer's disease may be less likely to develop cancer, and people who have cancer may be less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study published in the December 23, 2009, online issue ...

Look for new, improved sunscreen labels

May 10, 2013

(HealthDay)—New labeling laws for sunscreen will help American consumers choose the product that provides the best sun protection, experts say.

Recommended for you

Quality of life and Alzheimer's assessed

16 hours ago

A decline in cognitive functions does not necessarily mean lower health-related quality of life for people diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, new research suggests.

DNA methylation involved in Alzheimer's disease

Aug 17, 2014

A new study led by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and Rush University Medical Center, reveals how early changes in brain DNA methylation are involved in Alzheimer's disease. DNA methylation ...

User comments