Brain's memory region could hold clue to Alzheimer's onset

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A change in the memory-making region of the brain called the hippocampus could determine who gets Alzheimer's 10 years before symptoms appear.

Researchers who scanned the brains of middle-aged and older people while they were still healthy found that lower energy usage in the hippocampus signaled who would get Alzheimer's or a related memory problem 85% of the time. Scientists presented findings at an Alzheimer's Association prevention conference Sunday.

While the discovery must still be confirmed, it may help researchers who are looking for ways to delay the onset of the disease. Alzheimer's affects 4.5 million people in the U.S. and could hit 14 million by 2050.

Other study findings presented at the conference: Less education, gum disease early in life, or a stroke are determinants of dementia; older people who drink fruit or vegetable juice three times a week are less likely to develop Alzheimer's than non-juice drinkers; decreasing social activity in old age is also a risk factor.