Memory loss linked to lower risk of cancer death

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Older people that show signs of memory and thinking loss may have a lower risk of dying from cancer, according to a new study at the University Hospital 12 of October in Madrid, Spain.

The study involved over 2,500 participants over the age of 65. Each participant was tested on their memory and thinking skills over an average of 13 years. The participants were divided into three groups: those whose scores on the thinking tests were declining the fastest, those whose scores improved on the tests, and those in the middle.

Twenty-one percent of those in the group with the fastest decline died of cancer, compared to 29 percent of the participants in the other two groups. When the results were adjusted to include factors such as smoking, diabetes, and heart disease, the study found that people in the fastest declining group were still 30 percent less likely to die of cancer.

"We need to understand better the relationship between a disease that causes abnormal cell death and one that causes abnormal cell growth," study author Julián Benito-León, MD, PhD, was quoted as saying. "With the increasing number of people with both dementia and cancer, understanding this association could help us better understand and treat both diseases."

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