HealthDay News — Low scam awareness is associated with an increased risk for Alzheimer disease and mild cognitive impairment among older adults, according to a study published online April 16 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Patricia A. Boyle, Ph.D., from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago, and colleagues examined whether low scam awareness is associated with incident Alzheimer dementia, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer disease pathology in a prospective cohort of 935 older persons initially free of dementia. Questionnaires were used to measure scam awareness among the participants.

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The researchers found that 16.1 percent of persons developed Alzheimer dementia during a mean of approximately six years. There was a correlation for low scam awareness with increased risk for Alzheimer dementia (hazard ratio, 1.56); each one-unit increase in scam score correlated with about a 60 percent increase in dementia risk. There was also a correlation for low scam awareness with increased risk for mild cognitive impairment (hazard ratio, 1.47). Even after adjustment for global cognitive function, these correlations persisted. In a subset of 264 people who died, low scam awareness correlated with a higher burden of Alzheimer pathology, especially β-amyloid, in the brain.

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“The findings suggest that new and appropriately validated measures of such complex behaviors as scam awareness may facilitate early identification of persons at risk for cognitive impairment, particularly when applied in conjunction with other behavioral or biological measures,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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