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Scientists Find Link Between Skin Disease 'Rosacea' and Dementia

Apr 29, 2016 10:14 AM EDT
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Man with a severe case of Rosacea affecting his nose
Rosacea, the facial redness affecting millions of Americans, may be linked to a higher risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, study led by researchers at the University of Copenhagen suggests.
(Photo : Flickr/Gilbert Mercier)

Rosacea, the facial redness affecting millions of Americans, may be linked to a higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, suggests a study led by researchers at the University of Copenhagen.

American Academy of Dermatologists defines rosacea as a common skin disease which begins with frequent redness that can slowly spread beyond the nose and cheeks to the forehead and chin. An estimated 16 million Americans are currently diagnosed with the skin condition, National Rosacea Society notes.

Led by Alexander Egeberg, MD, PhD, of University of Copenhagen, the researchers examined 5,591,718 individuals, including 82,439 patients with rosacea. It was found out later on that a total of 99,040 individuals developed dementia (any form) and of whom 29,193 were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The risk was highest among older adults and those diagnosed by a hospital dermatologist.

Wandtv notes that Patients with rosacea have elevated levels of certain proteins such as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), that are also involved in neurogenerative disorders like Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

After Cox regression was used to calculate unadjusted and adjusted hazard ratios, it was found out that patients with rosacea had a 7 percent increased risk of dementia and a 25 percent increased risk of Alzheimer's disease compared with individuals without rosacea.

Dr. Egeberg told Medscape.com that "While it is too early to suggest possible treatment options based on these findings, it will be interesting to see if treatment of rosacea may impact the dementia risk and vice versa."

In addition, he also emphasized that being diagnosed with the skin disease does not necessarily mean that they will develop neurological disorders.

While there is no cure for rosacea yet and the cause is unknown, medical therapy is available to manage the signs. Individuals who suspect they may have rosacea are urged to see a dermatologist.

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