St. LOUIS, Mo. (CBS St. Louis) – According to a recent study, seniors with cancer have a lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease and vice versa.

Researchers studied over 200,000 senior adults in northern Italy. They concluded that cancer patients have a 35 percent lower chance for developing Alzheimer’s, while people with Alzheimer’s have half the risk of getting cancer.

Research has suggested there are 6 ways to help prevent one from Alzheimer’s: Physical activity, weight control, mental challenges, social connections, healthy diet, and chronic disease control will affect the brain and perhaps the development of Alzheimer’s.

According to HealthDay, the research team spent six years tracking the health status of the participants. During that time period, almost 21,500 men and women developed cancer, while more than 2,800 developed Alzheimer’s.

Only 161 patients developed both diseases.

“Practically, our results indicated that some genes that have been demonstrated to act in cancer growth and control might also be involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease,” lead author Dr. Massimo Musicco, of the National Research Council of Italy’s Institute of Advanced Biomedical Technologies told US News. “And this represents a promising observation for the struggle against this devastating neurodegenerative disorder.

In an accompanying study at the Washington University in St. Louis, Catherine Roe, an instructor in neurology at the school, says this makes sense.

“Like previous studies, they have shown that people with Alzheimer’s disease are less likely to get cancer, and people with cancer are less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease,” she told the newspaper.

“But because they looked at so many people, they were able to test whether Alzheimer’s is associated with some kinds of cancers, but not other kinds,” she added. “This may help in eventually pinpointing there is this opposite relationship between Alzheimer’s and cancer.”

The study was published in the online journal Neurology.

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