The devastating biological consequences of homelessness

Understanding why living on the street seems to cause rapid aging could help homeless people — and governments.

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Jun 07, 2019
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When Serggio Lanata moved to San Francisco in 2013, he was stunned by its sprawling tent cities. “Homelessness was everywhere I looked,” he says. Lanata, a neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), was also struck by similarities in the behaviour of some older homeless people and patients he had treated for dementia in the clinic.

Now, years later, he is embarking on a study that will examine homeless adults for early signs of Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative brain disorders to better understand the interplay between these conditions and life on the street. The work, which is set to begin in June, ties into an ongoing effort by researchers at UCSF to understand the biological effects of homelessness in older people.

By: Amy Maxmen/Nature News

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