Higher Educational Linked to Lower Alzheimer’s Risk in Study Looking at Gene Variants

Higher Educational Linked to Lower Alzheimer’s Risk in Study Looking at Gene Variants
Certain variations found in genes that correlate with intelligence and may affect "cognitive reserve" are evident in people with higher levels of education and appear to work to protect against Alzheimer’s disease (AD), new research shows. Better educating young adults may help to reduce the expected rise in AD incidence as people worldwide live longer, its researchers said. In the study “Modifiable pathways in Alzheimer’s disease: Mendelian randomisation analysis,” researchers examined  24 modifiable risk factors, or factors that can be changed — such as lifestyle and diet — using "genetic variants as proxies" for these factors. Specifically, they compared variations in genes — called genetic variants — among 17,000 Alzheimer's patients and 37,000 healthy controls using a technique called Mendelian randomization. This technique makes it possible to identify a cause for a given disease by first establishing an association between certain genes or genetic variants and a disease risk factor. Variants that predict a potential for higher levels of education, they reported, were associated with a reduced risk for AD. "We ... found suggestive evidence for an inverse association between genetically predicted intelligence and [Alzheimer's] risk," the team wrote. Study results also suggested that higher coffee consumption, but not alcohol consumption, may be associated with Alzheimer's development. Other modifiable risk factors are socioeconomic, cardiometabolic (risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes) or inflammatory in nature. The exact reason why higher education protects against AD is not known, but the researchers consider that “cognitive reserve” may be it. Cognitive rese
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