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Immune Disorders Such as MS and Psoriasis May Be Tied to Dementia Risk

March 2, 2017

People with autoimmune diseases -- conditions that cause a person's immune system to turn against the body -- appear to have an increased risk of developing dementia, a new British study suggests.

Researchers found that 18 out of 25 different autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, psoriasis or multiple sclerosis, "showed a statistically significant association with dementia," said study co-author Dr. Michael Goldacre. He's a professor of public health at the University of Oxford.

Goldacre and other experts stressed that the study, which was found in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, didn't prove that autoimmune diseases cause dementia. The research only showed that these conditions are associated with a higher risk of dementia.

Specifically, the study found that people with multiple sclerosis appeared to have nearly double the risk of dementia. Psoriasis was associated with a 29 percent increased risk of dementia. Lupus was linked to a 46 percent increased risk, and rheumatoid arthritis with a 13 percent increased risk. Crohn's disease was associated with a 10 percent increased risk.

"How do [autoimmune diseases] affect the brain? We don't know, although others have suggested that chronic inflammation, possibly autoimmune effects, or possibly both, may have a role in Alzheimer's," Goldacre said.

For this study, the researchers reviewed information from more than 1.8 million people in England. All had been admitted to a hospital with an autoimmune disease between 1998 and 2012.

Compared with people admitted for other causes, patients admitted for treatment of an autoimmune disorder were 20 percent more likely to wind up back at the hospital later with dementia, the researchers found.

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Via US NEWS