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Alzheimer's Risk Reaction

People who learn that they carry a genetic marker that increases risk for Alzheimer's disease are not likely to suffer from depression or distress than those who do not, but they are likely to handle the news by increasing efforts to reduce their risk, an ongoing study of the implications and responses to genomic testing has found.

According to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, investigators funded as part of the multipart Risk Evaluation and Education for Alzheimer’s Disease (REVEAL) Study has found that people who heard their APoE4 status put them at higher risk for the disease were more likely to engage in efforts to lower their risk, by exercising, eating healthy diets, and taking recommended vitamins and medications.

"This study informs our understanding of the impact of people finding out their genetic risk for Alzheimer's in the absence of any treatments to prevent dementia," says Jason Karlawish, a professor at Penn's Perelman School of Medicine and lead author on this part of the REVEAL study.

"We saw that, following their genetic counseling session, people took positive steps to mitigate their Alzheimer's risk, such as following a healthy diet and exercising. They might also be willing to join an Alzheimer's dementia prevention trial."

The REVEAL study is led by Robert Green, of Brigham and Women's Hospital.