Protein in urine may be linked to an increased risk of memory problems, study suggests

Study says people who have protein in their urine, which is a sign of kidney problems, may be more likely to develop problems with thinking and memory skills or even dementia later in life.

The study was published today (Wednesday 14 December 2016) in the online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The researchers looked at all available studies on kidney problems and the development of cognitive impairment or dementia. A total of 22 studies on the topic were included in the review. Five of the studies, which included 27,805 people, were evaluated in the meta-analysis on protein in the urine (known as albuminuria or proteinuria). The analysis showed that people with protein in the urine were 35 per cent more likely to develop cognitive impairment or dementia than people who did not have protein in their urine.

Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society said:

'This study reviews the best evidence on the topic and suggests that people who have protein in their urine may develop worse memory and thinking skills or dementia later in life. The link could be because kidney damage and dementia share risk factors, like high blood pressure. It could also be possible that kidney damage affects the brain, but we’d need to see more detailed research in large numbers of people that takes other risk factors into account before this link could be confirmed.'

'People who have kidney damage shouldn’t be unduly worried about these findings and should visit their GP if they have any concerns about their memory. The best way for anyone to reduce their risk of dementia is to exercise regularly, eat a healthy, balanced diet and avoid smoking.'

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