(HealthDay News) — Elderly individuals who experience faster cognitive decline appear to be at reduced risk of dying from cancer, according to research published online April 8 in Neurology.

Julián Benito-León, M.D., Ph.D., of Complutense University in Madrid, and colleagues conducted a prospective study of 2,627 individuals, aged 65 years and older, without dementia at baseline. At a median follow-up of 12.9 years, the researchers assessed the relationship between cognitive decline and risk of cancer mortality.

The researchers found that deaths from cancer were reported significantly less often for the tertile of participants with faster cognitive decline (2-point or greater decline in score on the Mini-Mental State Examination) than for those in the remaining tertiles (20.6 versus 28.6 percent; hazard ratio [HR], 0.75; P = 0.04). After multivariable adjustment, the risk of cancer mortality remained significantly reduced for individuals with faster cognitive decline (HR, 0.70; P = 0.02).

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“The results of the current study suggest that elderly people without dementia with faster cognitive decline are at reduced risk of mortality from malignant neoplasm,” the authors write.

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