Latest News » Being underweight could indicate higher risk of Alzheimer’s

When it comes to Alzheimer's, weight loss may not be positive.

When it comes to Alzheimer's, weight loss may not be positive.

Often, losing weight is celebrated as an achievement in personal health. However, it's not always beneficial. In some cases, losing weight can indicate a nutritional deficiency. In others, according to new research published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, it can heighten a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's.

Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital found a connection between lower body mass index and more deposits of the protein beta-amyloid, which is associated with Alzheimer's. Further, this association was even stronger in study participants carrying the APOE4 gene, which also increases the likelihood of Alzheimer's.

"Finding this association with a strong marker of Alzheimer's disease risk reinforces the idea that being underweight as you get older may not be a good thing when it comes to your brain health," Gad Marshall, senior author of the report from the MGH and BWH Departments of Neurology, said in a news release.

Marshall hypothesized that a lower BMI often indicates frailty, which has long been connected to the onset of Alzheimer's. However, he added that further research is needed to determine the cause and effect relationship between this risk and a person's weight.

This isn't the first time that being underweight has been associated with Alzheimer's. In fact, a group of Korean researchers had similar findings in a 2015 study. The research, also published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, found that participants who were underweight had a higher risk of progression to probable Alzheimer's disease dementia.

Additionally, a research team from Weill Cornell's Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute found that weight loss could be a symptom leading up to an Alzheimer's diagnosis.

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