Some cancers may protect against Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study. (Photo: Stockbyte via Getty Images)

[USA Today]

Some cancers may protect against Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study.
(Photo: Stockbyte via Getty Images)

In a small bit of good news for people with terrible diagnoses, having cancer appears to protect against getting Alzheimer’s disease — and vice versa.

What began as a hunch by a handful of researchers is confirmed in a study published today in the journal Neurology. People diagnosed with Alzheimer’s were found to have a 43% lower risk of developing cancer than those without the disease, and people with cancer ran a 35% lower chance of developing Alzheimer’s, according to the study of 25,000 residents of the Italian city of Milan.

This inverse relationship between cancer and Alzheimer’s will be one of the key topics discussed at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Boston, beginning this weekend. The conference is expected to include more than 4,500 researchers from 66 countries, and cover subjects such as Alzheimer’s risk factors, early detection, imaging and treatment.

Alzheimer’s is projected to triple over the next generation and become a huge social and financial burden. People with Alzheimer’s suffer loss of memory, thinking and language skills as well as behavioral changes that can make them extremely challenging to care for. Current treatments do not address underlying symptoms or stop the progression of the fatal disease.