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New Genetic Research Identifies Possible Increased Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease in African-

DNA HelixA cholesterol-related gene may double the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in older African-Americans, according to results from a meta-analysis of Alzheimer’s disease genetics data from nearly 6,000 African-Americans aged 60 and older. Although additional studies are needed to confirm the finding, the study found that Alzheimer’s disease in African-Americans was most significantly associated with a well-known Alzheimer’s risk gene (APOE e4), and also with a cholesterol-related gene (ABCA7) that had been weakly associated with Alzheimer’s in people of European ancestry.

This is the largest Alzheimer's genetics study in African-Americans to date, and it is the first time that a genetic cause has been identified that may partly explain the higher Alzheimer’s prevalence rates among African-Americans. Available research indicates that in the United States, older African-Americans are about two times more likely than older whites to have Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

The authors of the article say that, if these findings are validated by replication and functional studies, the identification of ABCA7 as a risk gene among African-Americans may help determine the causes of Alzheimer’s disease and also may have implications for genetic testing, prevention, and treatment. These findings also reinforce the notion that the genetics of Alzheimer’s may vary among different populations and that targeted detection, treatment, and prevention strategies may be necessary.

Dementia is America's Most Costly Disease 

Brain with Dollar signThe direct health care and long-term care costs of dementia are higher than for any other disease, including heart disease and cancer, according to a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). Adding the value of unpaid care, the study by the RAND Corporation estimated that total dementia care costs were as much as $215 billion in 2010.

The study is one of the most comprehensive attempts to disaggregate solely those costs attributable to dementia, although the authors admit that such a task is “challenging.” The task is complicated by the high degree of co-morbid conditions among people with dementia and the tendency of cognitive impairment to complicate the management and treatment of those other conditions. Dr. Ronald Petersen of the Mayo Clinic and Chairman of the federal Alzheimer’s Advisory Council noted that the study’s numbers are “somewhat conservative.”

The authors conclude that the costs of dementia will more than double in the next 30 years, which The New York Times called a “skyrocketing” of costs “that rarely occurs with a chronic disease.”

Check Out the World's Largest Alzheimer's Disease Resource Center

Library BookAmerica recently celebrated National Library Week, and the Alzheimer’s Association’s Green-Field Library is the world’s largest Alzheimer’s disease resource center, with more than 5,000 specialized books, journals, and videos on Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, the online virtual library provides access to Alzheimer's resources from locations all over the world, including:

You can get started online now at If you are in the Chicago area, feel free to stop by in person at the Association’s Chicago headquarters, located at 225 North Michigan Avenue on the 17th floor. 


Each edition of the Alzheimer’s Public Health News includes an in-depth spotlight of an Alzheimer’s issue important to public health officials.


Data indicate that in the United States, African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely than whites to have Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. What does the evidence say about this higher risk, and how can the public health community use this information? Having just concluded National Minority Health Month, learn about race, ethnicity and Alzheimer’s disease in this month’s Alzheimer’s and Public Health Spotlight.


The Alzheimer’s Public Health E-News is supported by Cooperative Agreement #5U58DP002945-03 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the Alzheimer’s Association and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC.


Public Health Website
alz-web-logo.jpgThe Alzheimer's Association has created a new website dedicated to public health. To learn more about Alzheimer's as a public health crisis, visit

Public Health Agenda
The Alzheimer's Association has identified three key elements of an Alzheimer's public health agenda: surveillance, early detection, and promotion of brain health.

The 10 Warning Signs
Know the 10 Signs
The Know the 10 Signs campaign is a national education effort to increase awareness of the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease and the benefits of early detection and diagnosis. 

Calendar: Events In Your Area

Join us at local public health events in your area focused on Alzheimer’s disease and public health.
May 9: Governor’s Conference on Aging, Great Falls, MT. Presentation on Alzheimer’s Disease and Public Health in Montana.
June 9-13: Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, Pasadena, CA. Presentations on BRFSS Caregiver Data and Alzheimer’s Disease as a public health issue.


For more information on the Healthy Brain Initiative, the public health agenda, or Alzheimer's disease in general, contact Catherine Morrison or check out

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