Decreased Cancer Mortality In Patients With Faster Cognitive Decline

Julian Benito-Leon Avda. De la Constituci Coslada, Madrid, Interview with:
Julian Benito-Leon
University Hospital “12 de Octubre”,
Madrid, Spain What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Benito-León: It has been suggested that a major problem with epidemiologic studies that have reported an inverse association between Alzheimer’s disease and cancer is the very likely underdiagnosis of cancer once dementia has been diagnosed. The results of the current study suggest that elderly people without dementia with faster cognitive decline are at reduced risk of mortality from malignant neoplasm. Indeed, the current study GIVES CREDIBILITY TO the inverse association of both conditions, recognized in other studies, since there was no possibility of underdiagnosis of cancer because the subjects with a faster cognitive decline were nondemented,

Cognitively healthy elderly people who are experiencing subtle cognitive decline within the normal range may be undergoing a clinically silent pathologic cascade of brain changes, during this phase, with b-amyloid deposition as the primary event in this cascade. Neural cells may become vulnerable to cytotoxicity by amyloid-forming peptides, such as b-amyloid, which shares the same mechanism of toxicity with host defense peptides, components of innate immune response, whose mission is to eradicate a broad range of microbes and cancer cells. Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Benito-León: No, they weren’t. In NEDICES (the population-based study we conducted) study we also demonstrated that Alzheimer’s disease decreased the risk of cancer mortality (please, see attached the paper). Therefore, after demonstrating that association, just next, I analyzed the current association (nondemented with faster cognitive decline and decreased risk of cancer mortality) in our dataset and found these results. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Benito-León: As I said previously, the current study GIVES CREDIBILITY TO the inverse association of Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. If we disentangle the mechanisms related to a decreased risk of cancer in Alzheimer’s disease, we could develop improved drugs to treat each one of the two conditions. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Benito-León: More studies are needed to try to determine the mechanisms behind this relationship between a disease that causes abnormal cell death and one that causes abnormal cell growth. With the increasing number of people with both dementia and cancer, understanding this association could help us better understand and treat both diseases.


Faster cognitive decline in elders without dementia and decreased risk of cancer mortality: NEDICES StudyJournal of Alzheimer’s Disease 40 (2014) 465–473
DOI 10.3233/JAD-132048



Last Updated on April 12, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD