We know that of the thousands of genes passed down from one generation to the next, some are common to all people and others have slight variations that account for physical differences and also underlie many diseases. Scientists have determined that among these are two types of genes that can play a role in Alzheimer’s.
“Risk” genes do not directly cause dementia but may affect the risk of developing the disease. Evidence suggests that a person with these genes whose parent(s) were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s faces a higher risk — on average, about double over their lifetime — compared to someone with no family history of the disease.
“Deterministic” genes are those that directly cause the disease. Although these genes can be passed down through multiple generations, scientists have found “familial Alzheimer’s disease” to be extremely rare, accounting for less than 5 percent of cases.
Although researchers have made progress in determining the role genetics play in Alzheimer’s, the connection is still not fully understood. While evidence suggests that a history of Alzheimer’s in our family increases our risk of developing the disease, this does not mean it is inevitable. Environment and lifestyle also play a key role in determining the diseases that may affect us.
Please support our local Alzheimer’s Association at 316-267-7333
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