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Alzheimer's symptoms may come in your 50s

July 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Scientists say people who have a genetic risk of developing Alzheimer's disease start experiencing memory loss as early as their 50s. An estimated 20 to 35 percent of Americans have one or two copies of the gene variant that causes Alzheimer's. The variant, known as APOE e4, is inherited from one or both parents.

Researchers found those at higher risk began to score worse on cognitive tests as early as their 50s. Those without the genetic variant did not experience cognitive decline until their 70s.

The findings are detailed in a study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Alzheimer's affects more than five million Americans and those numbers are expected to grow as the population ages.

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