Facing a future of dementia is a terrifying prospect that, until now, it seemed we had little control over. However an extensive new study has shown that there is plenty we can do to protect ourselves from Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers from the University of California trawled through reams of studies and other evidence dating as far back as 1968 to better understand the relationship between lifestyle and health factors and Alzheimer’s disease.
The analysis reinforces what we know: Alzheimer’s is an incredibly complex the disease.
But the good news is that researchers identified nine “modifiable risk factors” they say could contribute to up to two thirds of Alzheimer’s disease cases worldwide.
That means, by adopting preventative strategies, people can massively reduce their chances of developing dementia. These strategies target diet, drugs, body chemistry, mental health, pre-existing disease, and lifestyle.
Considering there is no cure for Alzheimers, prevention really is the key here.
The nine risk factors for Alzheimer’s, according to the study, are:
- Heavy smoking
- Carotid artery narrowing
- Type 2 diabetes
- Low educational attainment
- High levels of homocysteine
- High blood pressure
While some factors are more difficult than others to address, the authors of the study say that all have the potential to be modified. And considering these factors contribute to so many cases of dementia, it seems wise to tackle them as best you can – and not just for your brain’s sake.
To mitigate risk, healthy eating, maintaining a low BMI, quitting smoking and maintaining bone density are all measures people can take to reduce their risk of developing Alzheimers.
At a medical level, treating underlying conditions takes on another level of importance. The researchers also found some evidence of the protective effect of the female hormone oestrogen, plus cholesterol lowering drugs (statins), drugs used to lower high blood pressure, and anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
They found the same level of evidence for folate, vitamins C and E, and coffee, all of which were associated with helping to stave off the disease.
Similarly, the pooled data indicated a strong association between high levels of homocysteine—an amino acid manufactured in the body—and depression and a significantly heightened risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Does the threat of Alzheimer’s concern you? Do you actively try to prevent the disease?