Risk Factors for Alzheimer's Disease


About risk factors: Risk factors for Alzheimer's Disease are factors that do not seem to be a direct cause of the disease, but seem to be associated in some way. Having a risk factor for Alzheimer's Disease makes the chances of getting a condition higher but does not always lead to Alzheimer's Disease. Also, the absence of any risk factors or having a protective factor does not necessarily guard you against getting Alzheimer's Disease. For general information and a list of risk factors, see the risk center.

Risk factor list: The list of risk factors mentioned for Alzheimer's Disease in various sources includes:

Risk factors discussion: The major risk factors for AD are age and family history. Other possible risk factors include a serious head injury and lower levels of education. Scientists are also studying additional factors to see if they may cause the disease. Some of these factors include:

  • Genetic (Inherited) Factors: Scientists believe that genetic factors may be involved in more than half of the cases of AD. For example, a protein called apolipoprotein E (ApoE) may be important. Everyone has ApoE, which helps carry cholesterol in the blood. However, the function of ApoE in the brain is less understood. The ApoE gene has three forms. One form seems to protect a person from AD, and another form seems to make a person more likely to develop the disease. Scientists still need to learn a lot more about ApoE and its role in AD.

  • Environmental Factors: Scientists have found aluminum, zinc, and other metals in the brain tissue of people with AD. They are studying these metals to see if they cause AD or if they build up in the brain as a result of the disease.

  • Viruses: Some scientists think that a virus may cause AD. They are studying viruses that might cause the changes seen in the brain tissue of people with AD.

AD probably is not caused by any one factor. It is more likely to be several factors that act differently in each person. For example, genetic factors alone may not be enough to cause the disease. Other risk factors may combine with a personís genetic makeup to increase her or his chance of developing the disease.1

Risks factors for Alzheimer's Disease: medical news summaries: The following medical news items are relevant to risk factors for Alzheimer's Disease:

1. excerpt from Alzheimer's Disease: NWHIC

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