TV personality Sharon Osbourne says she's "terrified" she will develop Alzheimer's disease as she ages.
The reality television star and husband, rocker Ozzy Osbourne, said they underwent genomic testing a few months ago at a university in England. The results indicate she has two of four gene mutations that are linked to this most common form of dementia.
Research shows that the risk for developing Alzheimer's disease is closely related to genetics. In recent years, scientists have identified a number of genes that are linked to a person's risk for Alzheimer's disease.
Osbourne's father, the music industry giant Don Arden, suffered from Alzheimer's disease until he passed away in 2007 at the age of 81. A family history is a strong indicator that Alzheimer's is a personal health risk.
"It is the most soul-destroying disease" she told the Daily Mirror UK. "To see someone you love come down with it...It's wicked, it really is."
Researchers have previously established that early onset Alzheimer's disease (developing before the age of 65) is linked to faulty genes. Many experts have come to believe that developing symptoms later in life -- after age 65 -- may also be partially due to heredity.
While a healthy lifestyle can offer some protection against Alzheimer's disease, eating the right foods and getting plenty of exercise won't completely negate one's genetic makeup, something Osbourne acknowledged in her interview with the Mirror. "There is nothing I can do to prevent it, nothing. People say to take cod liver oil and do puzzles and things, but then I look at people diagnosed with dementia," she said. "My father was super active mentally, and take Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan... they were all so active, and that's what really frightens me."
At the age of 62, Osbourne has had more than her share of health crises already. More than 10 years ago, she was diagnosed with and beat colon cancer. Then in 2013, Osbourne opted to have a double mastectomy after she was found to have mutations in her BRCA genes, which significantly raise a woman's risk for developing certain types of breast and ovarian cancer. Osbourne also underwent surgery to remove leaky breast implants a number of years ago.
Earlier this month, Osbourne told CBS News that she planned to keep a close watch on her health in 2015, which will include maintaining her weight with the Atkins diet.
Her husband's genetic test results, on the other hand, did not raise any major red flags. However, doctors did determine that the former Back Sabbath rocker is now allergic to alcohol, coffee and dust.