Predictions of Alzheimer's wave substantiated

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The number of Americans with Alzheimer's disease increased by 10% over the past five years, supporting the theory that an "epidemic" of new cases is on its way with as the tidal wave of baby boomers ages, researchers said.

More than 5 million people currently are diagnosed with Alzheimer's, according to a report released Tuesday by the Alzheimer's Association. Unless some way is found to delay or prevent symptoms, scientists predict the number will grow to 7.7 million by 2030 and 16 million by 2050.

Researchers say age is the biggest risk factor to acquiring Alzheimer's. Currently, 1 in 8 individuals 65 and older have the disease; the ratio jumps to nearly 1 in 2 for the 85-and-older cohort.

"We're (modern medicine is) keeping people alive so they can live long enough to get Alzheimer's disease," explained Alzheimer's Association Vice President Steve McConnell.