Early-Stage Alzheimer's Could Make People Lose Weight

Previous research has shown that being overweight could increase your risk of Alzheimer's. But a new study shows that people with certain biomarkers for the disease are actually more likely to be thin.

According to EurekAlert, scientists looked at 506 people ranging from those with no memory problems to those with full-blown Alzheimer's. They found that people who had markers of Alzheimer's called beta-amyloid plaques in their brains — even if they had no symptoms — had a lower BMI on average than those who had no markers. This means Alzheimer's, even in its early stages, might be doing something to make people skinnier. Says study author Jeffrey M. Burns, "These results suggest Alzheimer's disease brain changes are associated with systemic metabolic changes in the very earliest phases of the disease. This might be due to damage in the area of the brain called the hypothalamus that plays a role in regulating energy metabolism and food intake."

Earlier studies showed that being overweight or having a large waist might increase the risk of Alzheimer's. Combined with the new study, the picture is a bit confusing, although not necessarily contradictory — it's possible that people with high BMI are more likely to get Alzheimer's, but then lose weight once they get it. Still, it appears that the link between dementia and weight is by no means simple, and being thin is (as though it needed reiterating) no guarantee that a person is healthy.

People With Early Alzheimer's Disease May Be More Likely To Have Lower BMI [EurekAlert via CBS]

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