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Gene Linked to Alzheimer's May Lose Power With Age

Study found that by 90, the gene no longer raised risk for the brain disorder or other ailments

FRIDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- If you live long enough, a potentially harmful gene linked to Alzheimer's disease may lose its punch, according to a new study.

The ApoE4 gene is linked to the risk of developing Alzheimer's, heart disease and diabetes. This study found that the gene becomes less important once people reach their 90s.

Mayo Clinic researchers looked at 121 people, ages 90 to 99, in Olmsted County, Minn., who were living on their own in or long-term care facilities. The participants completed an interview, had a physical exam and filled out a quality-of-life questionnaire. Blood samples were taken for genetic analysis.

People with the ApoE4 gene were no worse off than those without the gene, the investigators found.

"We found if people had good physical, intellectual, and emotional well-being, more social connectedness, and if they perceived themselves to have better coping skills, they felt they had better quality of life," study co-author and psychiatrist Dr. Maria Lapid said in a Mayo news release.

"The study shows that the ApoE4 genotype doesn't determine what your quality of life will be, and that, regardless of your gender, environmental factors play a significant role in your physical, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being," she explained. "You can have good quality of life regardless of this gene."

The findings were published in the October Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging offers advice about healthy aging.


SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, Oct. 25, 2012

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