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E. Is Alzheimer's Disease Intrinsic to Aging?

Narrator: This is Science Today. It's true that the older a person is, the higher the odds are for getting Alzheimer's Disease, but this debilitating illness is not inevitable. Bruce Reed, co-director of the University of California, Davis Alzheimer's Center, says although the disease is in fact common, normal aging is common as well.

Reed: There is a degree of memory loss that happens normally as people age and it's very different than Alzheimer's disease and it's not that everybody's destined to get it. And it's not that if people get old enough they can't remember anymore. So there really is a normal and healthy side to aging and then there's this disease process.

Narrator: In fact, Reed says it seems the incidence of Alzheimer's Disease peaks sometime around age eighty-five and begins to decline after that.

Reed: It actually seems to be linked to some genetic factors and that with certain genetic factors the peak incidence is earlier - probably in the seventies. And then if you get through that, the risk actually begins to decline, which suggests that it's a disease process that is not intrinsic to aging.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.