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Obesity gene and Alzheimer's linked

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Scientists believe Alzheimer’s disease could be linked to an obesity gene that causes weight gain.

People with the FTO-AA gene have a 58% higher chance of developing Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, the research suggests. Their overall chance of developing dementia was increased by 48%.

Those with the most common Alzheimer’s gene, APOE4, and the obesity gene had double the risk of Alzheimer’s.

The genes of 1,000 elderly people were tested by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. Researchers then monitored their progress for nine years and recorded any new cases of Alzheimer’s or dementia. The findings were presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Professor Clive Ballard, director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “It has been argued for some time that too many chips and chocolate bars could not only lead to a big belly but could also increase your risk of dementia. However, this latest study suggests the link between obesity and dementia could in some cases be partly genetic. More research is needed to determine to what extent this is the case.

“We need a greater understanding of the link between genetic and lifestyle factors but until then, there are things we can all do to lower the odds of dementia. Eating healthily and exercising regularly will protect your head as well as your heart.”

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