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From The Independent:
Brain injuries sustained on the battlefield and the gridiron of American football likely boost the risk of dementia later in life, according to two studies released Monday.

In a third study, also presented at an international Alzheimer's conference in Paris this week, researchers unveiled evidence that falling over in daily life may be an early warning sign of the onset of Alzheimer's.

Older war veterans who experienced traumatic brain injury face a doubled risk of developing dementia, according to a study led by Kristine Yaffe, head of the Memory Disorders Program at the San Francisco Veterans Association medical centre.

Reviewing the medical records of 281,540 US veterans aged 55 and older, they found that the risk of dementia was 15.3 percent in those who had had traumatic brain injuries (TBI) compared to 6.8 percent for ex-soldiers who had not.

"This issue is important, because TBI is very common," Yaffe said in a statement.

"About 1.7 million people experience a TBI each year in the United States, primarily due to falls and car crashes."

Such injuries are also known as the "signature wound" of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, accounting for 22 percent of casualties overall and 59 percent of blast-related injuries.

The research suggests that the death and damage of axons - long cell extensions that form connections among nerve cells in the brain - may be to blame for the higher risk of dementia.
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