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Is There a Link Between Skin Cancers and Alzheimer’s Disease?

By: Meg Barbor, MPH
Posted: Thursday, May 24, 2018

Patients with both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers seem to have a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease after a cancer diagnosis, according to data reported by Erin Ibler, MD, of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, and colleagues, in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. Ongoing research to elucidate the neurologic and biologic mechanisms behind the decreased risk for Alzheimer’s disease in people with these skin cancers is necessary, they indicated.

The researchers analyzed electronic medical record data from 2001 to 2015 for about 83,000 individuals from a large, urban, single‐center, Midwestern U.S. patient population. Patients were between the ages of 60 and 89, with a clinic follow‐up of at least 1 year and no diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, malignant melanoma, or non‐melanoma skin cancer at the time of study entry. A total of 1,147 patients were diagnosed with malignant melanoma, 2,506 were diagnosed with basal cell cancers, and 967 were diagnosed with squamous cell cancers.

After adjusting for confounding factor—such as race, gender, age, cerebrovascular disease, peripheral vascular disease, and diabetes—the investigators observed a significantly decreased risk of subsequent Alzheimer’s disease in patients with malignant melanoma (odds ratio = 0.39), basal cell cancers (odds ratio = 0.18), and squamous cell cancers (odds ratio = 0.08).



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