Health & wellness

African-Americans have higher Alzheimer’s risk

We’ve long known that African-Americans have a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease than white Americans. But we’ve never had a clear explanation -- until now. A study being presented this week at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Boston says socioeconomic factors are to blame for that disparity.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s 2013 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures reports older African-Americans are twice as likely to suffer from aging-related dementia or Alzheimer’s as white counterparts. (Hispanics are 1.5 times as likely to have Alzheimer’s.)

Advertisement

The study at the University of California, San Francisco and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center surveyed about 3,000 black and white elderly people over 12 years. Though the black participants seemed to show more of a propensity to develop dementia, the researchers found the difference was not statistically significant after adjusting for patients’ income levels.

High blood pressure and diabetes can increase one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life, according to the 2013 facts and figures report. These conditions are more prevalent in poorer communities.

Get The Weekender in your inbox:
The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Dr. Kristine Yaffe, who led the study, said in a statement that the findings suggest researchers should better control for socioeconomic factors in future studies about demographics of aging populations.

These findings come on the tail of other recent research showing no genetic differences explaining the disease’s racial disparity.

An estimated 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, the 2013 association report says. The condition is under-diagnosed, and the Alzheimer’s Association estimates about half of those 5.2 million people do not know they have the disease. This is particularly true in black and Hispanic communities, where missed and mis-diagnoses are common, according to the report.

Advertisement

The report estimates Massachusetts will have 140,000 residents living with Alzheimer’s by 2025.

Sanjena Sathian can be reached at sanjena.sathian@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @sasathian.
Loading comments...
You're reading  1 of 5 free articles.
Get UNLIMITED access for only 99¢ per week Subscribe Now >
You're reading1 of 5 free articles.Keep scrolling to see more articles recomended for you Subscribe now
We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles.
Continue reading by subscribing to Globe.com for just 99¢.
 Already a member? Log in Home
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.