Study: Alzheimer's Disease will Skyrocket by 2030

The Alzheimer's Association released its latest report Tuesday claiming the brain degenerating disease could affect seven-point-seven million people by the year 2030.

The report released at an opportune time, when Congress is considering funding for research into Alzheimer's and other diseases. Based on federal population counts, the new report, is the first update of the Alzheimer's toll since 2002, when it was estimated to afflict 4.5 million people.

The report shows age as the biggest risk factor, indicating skyrocketing incline of Alzheimer's once the baby boomers start turning 65 in 2011. One in eight people 65 and older have the mind-destroying illness and nearly one in two people over 85. Startling findings indicate that unless scientists discover a way to delay Alzheimer's, some seven-point-seven (m) million people are expected to have the disease by 2030. By 2050, that toll could reach 16 (m) million.

No one knows what causes Alzheimer's creeping brain degeneration. It gradually robs sufferers of their memories and ability to care for themselves, eventually killing them. There is no known cure, and today's drugs only temporarily alleviate symptoms.

There are nine drugs in late-stage clinical trials, including a few that aim to slow Alzheimer's worsening. If such drugs pan out, delaying Alzheimer's symptoms by even a few years could cut by millions the coming decades' predicted toll, the report notes.