Anemia may increase the risk of dementia, according to a large study recently in Neurology.
Older people are more likely to develop anemia (a low level of red blood cells) due to iron or vitamin B12 deficiency, blood loss, various chronic diseases and other causes. In the new study, people in their seventies who had anemia were 40 percent more likely to develop dementia over 11 years.
One possible explanation is that since red blood cells carry oxygen, anemia results in less oxygen getting to the brain. Anemia may also be a sign of poor overall health, though the researchers took into account age, race, heart disease, kidney function and many other factors.