Genetics aside, everyone should keep a sharp eye out for the signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists have recently uncovered some surprising early symptoms, beyond memory loss or confusion while driving. Now, research published in the journal Annals of Neurology says that one marker for Alzheimer’s disease could be written all over your face, too.
Rosacea (a skin condition that causes facial redness) could be linked to Alzheimer’s disease, according to a 2016 study. To determine their results, lead author Dr. Alexander Egeberg and his team examined data from the Danish national health registry system for the years 1997 to 2012. The nation’s entire population of roughly 5.6 million men and women were included in the study, and about 82,000 had rosacea.
The final data showed that people with rosacea were seven percent more likely to develop any form of dementia—and 25 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease—than people without rosacea. The association seemed more prominent for women rather than men; while women with rosacea had a 28 percent greater risk for Alzheimer’s, men had a 16 percent greater risk. What’s more, Alzheimer’s risk for rosacea patients increased by 20 percent among those aged 60 or older when they first enrolled in the study.
About 16 million Americans have been diagnosed with rosacea, according to the National Rosacea Society. Often, those who have it show redness and acne-like markings on the face.
However, the study authors assure everyone that people with rosacea should not be too concerned about the results. The study only shows an association between dementia and rosacea, and more research is necessary to determine if a causal link exists.
“It is important for patients to remember that having rosacea does not guarantee that they will develop Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Egeberg said. “In fact, while the risk in rosacea patients may be slightly increased compared with the general population, the absolute risk [to any one patient] is still quite low.”
If you’re worried about your odds—rosacea or not—these everyday habits can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s.