Inverse occurrence of cancer and Alzheimer disease: A population-based incidence study

Massimo Musicco, Fulvio Adorni, Simona Di Santo, Federica Prinelli, Carla Pettenati, Carlo Caltagirone, Katie Palmer, Antonio Russo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To evaluate the incidence of cancer in persons with Alzheimer disease (AD) and the incidence of AD dementia in persons with cancer. Methods: This was a cohort study in Northern Italy on more than 1 million residents. Cancer incidence was derived from the local health authority (ASL-Mi1) tumor registry and AD dementia incidence from registries of drug prescriptions, hospitalizations, and payment exemptions. Expected cases of AD dementia were calculated by applying the age-, sex-, and calendar year-specific incidence rates observed in thewhole population to the subgroup constituted of persons with newly diagnosed cancers during the observation period (2004-2009). The same calculations were carried out for cancers in patients with AD dementia. Separate analyses were carried out for the time period preceding or following the index diagnosis for survivors and nonsurvivors until the end of 2009 and for different types and sites of cancer. Results: The risk of cancer in patients with AD dementia was halved, and the risk of AD dementia in patients with cancer was 35% reduced. This relationship was observed in almost all subgroup analyses, suggesting that some anticipated potential confounding factors did not significantly influence the results. Conclusions: The occurrence of both cancer and AD dementia increases exponentially with age, but with an inverse relationship; older persons with cancer have a reduced risk of AD dementia and vice versa. As AD dementia and cancer are negative hallmarks of aging and senescence, we suggest that AD dementia, cancer, and senescence could be manifestations of a unique phenomenon related to human aging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-328
Number of pages7
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 23 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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