A new study comparing risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease has found that having a high amount of beta amyloid plaques in the brain is associated with greater mental decline in healthy, older people than carrying a gene thought to increase people’s risk for the disease.
According to study author Yen Ying Lim, at the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, prior research has shown that carrying the ‘Alzheimer’s gene,’ called the APOE ε4 allele, and plaques have both been associated with increased risk of cognitive decline and the eventual development of Alzheimer’s disease. The gene also increases the risk of plaques.
Therefore, Lim and her colleagues originally thought that having both the gene and a high amount of plaques together would result in greater cognitive decline.
However, “the data suggested that while both plaques and the gene were associated with decline in healthy people, the main driver of this decline was the amyloid plaque,” Lim told FoxNews.com.