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10 surprising Alzheimer’s predictors

Photos Logo By Teresa Bergen of Photos | Slide 1 of 12

Unraveling the mystery

About 5.2 million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and the aging population will drive that number to an estimated 7.1 million by 2025, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Researchers have identified several types of brain abnormalities in people with the disease, notably plaques made of clumps of beta-amyloid protein and tangles of a protein called tau. Both correlate with the death of brain cells, leading to progressive memory loss, dwindling social skills and, eventually, death. As Dr. Marwan Sabbagh, director of the Banner Sun Health Research Institute and co-author of "The Alzheimer’s Prevention Cookbook," puts it, Alzheimer’s memory loss goes beyond the usual “I forgot where I put my keys” to “I forgot what my keys are for.” Age, family history, having the Apolipoprotein E genotype and being female are the leading predictors of the disease. But researchers are finding other predictive correlations, especially in lifestyle.
© Elderly man (Glow Images/Getty Images)
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