(NEW YORK) -- Can blood type be a factor in determining your risk for dementia?
A new study published in the journal Neurology finds that people with blood type AB appear to have an increased risk for memory problems as they age.
Over a period of three years, individuals with AB type blood, which represents about four percent of the population, were almost twice as likely to display memory problems as those with type O blood, the most common blood group.
The researchers gave memory and thinking skills tests to more than 30,000 people over the age of 45 and re-tested them again three years later. Out of the group, 495 participants scored low enough to indicate some sort of memory or thinking impairment. When their blood types were compared to the blood types of 587 participants who achieved satisfactory cognitive scores, the researchers found those with AB blood types were 82 percent more likely to have impaired thinking skills than those with type O blood.
Dr. Mary Cushman, a professor of hematology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and the study's senior researcher, says the results are not surprising. Cushman says they already know that having blood type AB can affect blood-clotting characteristics and risk of blood vessel-related conditions. Cushman says her group also learned earlier this year that the AB blood type was connected to a higher risk of stroke.
But don't panic if you have AB blood. Dr. Terence Quinn, a clinical lecturer in stroke and geriatric medicine at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, says other circumstances play a bigger role in a person's risk of developing memory and thinking problems.
"If you were to do the same study and look at smoking, lack of exercise, obesity and other lifestyle factors, the risk of dementia is much, much higher," says Quinn.
"People who are worried about dementia, whether they have that blood group or not, should look at making those lifestyle changes," adds Quinn.
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