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Alzheimer's Study Suggests Family Ties Increase Risk

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study from Duke University has both good and bad news for people with family members who have Alzheimer's disease.

According to scientists, individuals related to someone with the memory-robbing illness tend to show silent brain changes associated with Alzheimer's even before symptoms develop more so then people with no family history of the disease.

Duke made its analysis by studying 250 adults aged 55 to 89, many with no signs of Alzheimer's.

This new finding enables scientists to help detect early-onset Alzheimer's disease in healthy individuals with relatives who have the disease, although it's still difficult to ascertain the possibility of late-onset Alzheimer's because the genetics are more complex.

Nonetheless, the researchers stressed that the study does not yet prove a cause-and-effect relationship, meaning that a family history of Alzheimer's doesn't necessarily mean someone is destined to be affected themselves, although the risk is greater.

Currently, 5.2 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease with that number expected to climb to over seven million of people 65 and older by the year 2025.

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