Weight loss a precursor to Alzheimer's disease, study finds

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It appears that an acceleration of weight loss in the elderly may be an early warning sign of Alzheimer's disease.

Older people who were followed for an average of six years lost twice as much weight in the year before the first signs of dementia appeared, compared to people who did not develop Alzheimer's-related dementias, a new study finds. The weight lost averaged 1.2 pounds per year for eventual Alzheimer's patients, versus 0.6 pounds per year for the others. The research appears in the September issue of the Archives of Neurology.

While researchers acknowledge that the acceleration in weight loss may be too small to help physicians identify Alzheimer's, the finding may help researchers better understand the disease. The research is based on data from the Memory and Aging Project at the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center of Washington University in St. Louis.