Association of cancer and Alzheimer's disease risk in a national cohort of veterans

Laura Frain, David Swanson, Kelly Cho, David Gagnon, Kun Ping Lu, Rebecca A. Betensky, Jane Driver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: To examine the risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD) among cancer survivors in a national database. Methods: Retrospective cohort of 3,499,378 mostly male US veterans aged ≥65 years were followed between 1996 and 2011. We used Cox models to estimate risk of AD and alternative outcomes (non-AD dementia, osteoarthritis, stroke, and macular degeneration) in veterans with and without a history of cancer. Results: Survivors of a wide variety of cancers had modestly lower AD risk, but increased risk of the alternative outcomes. Survivors of screened cancers, including prostate cancer, had a slightly increased AD risk. Cancer treatment was independently associated with decreased AD risk; those who received chemotherapy had a lower risk than those who did not. Discussion: Survivors of some cancers have a lower risk of AD but not other age-related conditions, arguing that lower AD diagnosis is not simply due to bias. Cancer treatment may be associated with decreased risk of AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1364-1370
Number of pages7
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cancer
  • Cancer therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Epidemiology
  • Inverse association
  • Radiation
  • Risk
  • Survival bias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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