Tyas SL et al (2001). Risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease: a population-based, longitudinal study in Manitoba, Canada. Int J Epidemiol;30:590-7.

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Background

Current knowledge of risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is limited. Data from a longitudinal, population-based study of dementia in Manitoba, Canada were used to investigate risk factors for AD.

Methods

Cognitively intact subjects completed a risk factor questionnaire assessing sociodemographic, genetic, environmental, medical and lifestyle exposures. Five years later, 36 subjects had developed AD and 658 remained cognitively intact.

Results

Older subjects or those who had fewer years of education were at greater risk of AD. After adjusting for age, education and sex, occupational exposure to fumigants/ defoliants was a significant risk factor for AD (relative risk [RR] = 4.35; 95% CI : 1.05–17.90). A history of migraines increased the risk of AD (RR = 3.49; 95% CI : 1.39–8.77); an even stronger effect was noted among women. Self-reported memory loss at baseline was associated with subsequent development of AD (RR = 5.15; 95% CI : 2.36–11.27). Vaccinations and occupational exposure to excessive noise reduced the risk of AD.

Conclusions

Some well-known risk factors for AD were confirmed in this study and potential new risk factors were identified. The association of AD with a history of migraines and occupational exposure to defoliants/fumigants is of particular interest because these are biologically plausible risk factors.

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