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Lack of Schooling, Farm Upbringing May Boost Alzheimer’s Risk. Part 1

by Daniel on April 26th, 2012

Results of a study of African Americans aged 65 years and older living in Indiana suggests that six or fewer years of schooling and a childhood spent in a rural area may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, US researchers report.

The study authors write that low levels of education alone may not be a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s, but may serve as a marker of other economic or environmental factors in childhood that affect this risk later in life.

Although low levels of education have been consistently associated with increased risks of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, the increased risk of low education in this study was apparent only among patients who spent their early years in rural environments, report Dr. Kathleen S. Hall and colleagues from Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. Their findings are published in the January issue of Neurology.

In contrast, low education and childhood urban residence was not associated with an increased chance of Alzheimer’s. But the study authors warn that the number of study participants in this group was small, therefore, “it is possible that education still may be a risk factor in the urban group. If so, it would be at a smaller magnitude than the risk in the rural group.”

Combining low education level and rural upbringing, however, increased the odds of developing Alzheimer’s disease 6.5-fold compared with the combination of high education and urban childhood, the researchers note. “Possessing just one risk factor, however, did not seem to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” they write.

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