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"A 64 percent higher incidence among African-Americans is quite a large difference, in our view," says Kyle Steenland. "We wanted to come up with an overall estimate of racial differences to help motivate further exploration of possible causes, such as biological, psychological, and socioeconomic factors." (Credit: iStockphoto)

African American health

African Americans have higher risk of Alzheimer’s

The first known meta-analysis of Alzheimer’s disease incidence by race shows that African Americans are 64 percent more likely to develop the condition than Caucasians.

The estimate, made after adjusting for age, gender, and education, is 5.5 percent for Caucasians and 8.6 percent for African Americans.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from six United States population-based studies to determine incidence and prevalence by race, with a combined 370 African-American and 640 Caucasian incident cases.

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“It is generally accepted that African-Americans have higher incidence and prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease, but there has been no quantitative estimate of the higher incidence,” says Kyle Steenland, professor of environmental health and epidemiology at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health.

“A 64 percent higher incidence among African-Americans is quite a large difference, in our view. We wanted to come up with an overall estimate of racial differences to help motivate further exploration of possible causes, such as biological, psychological, and socioeconomic factors.”

Steenland says the data, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, could have an impact on the public health burden related to Alzheimer’s disease due to projected population increases in those 65 and older, as well as an overall shift in demography with non-whites, who are at higher risk, constituting the majority of the US population by 2045.

The Emory Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center funded the work.

Source: Emory University

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