Leading healthy lifestyle most effective way to prevent dementia

Wednesday, 17 Jul, 2019

Participants with high genetic risk and an unfavourable lifestyle were nearly three times more likely to develop dementia than those with a low genetic risk and a favourable lifestyle (a 2.83 increased occurrence of dementia from any cause).

Researchers who followed almost 200,000 people found those at high genetic risk for dementia, but who didn't smoke, who exercised regularly, drank alcohol in moderation and ate a Mediterranean-leaning diet lowered their dementia risk by a third. So, they were divided into three groups based on their genetic risk of developing this disease. A polygenic score was used to assess genetic risk and a weighted score was used to categorise lifestyles into favourable, intermediate and unfavourable based on exercise, diet, smoking and alcohol consumption. And at the current time there is no cure for it or a drug to stop it, however, studies are showing that it may be possible to delay it even in people with genetic risks, as reported by researchers attending the Alzheimer's Association International Conference last Sunday, July 14, 2019.

"Some people believe it's inevitable they'll develop dementia due to their genetics".

Of course, it's not exactly surprising that leading a healthy lifestyle really pays off; in fact, these highlighted habits correlate to the five habits that a 2018 Harvard study found could extend your life by over a decade.

No significant interaction between genetic risk and lifestyle factors were identified by investigators.

A study which was published a few years ago noted that a healthy lifestyle could hamper the appearance of heart disease, and it is thought that the same effect could be achieved in the case of dementia.

Sixty years old is still considered young in terms of developing dementia.

"We need more research into the brain changes that cause the diseases underlying dementia symptoms in order to develop effective preventions and treatments for everyone affected by dementia", Spires-Jones said.

"This demonstrates the potential of lifestyle behaviors to reduce risk as we age", said Heather Snyder, senior director of medical and scientific operations at the Alzheimer's Association, according to The Washington Post.

Of course genes can't be modified, but lifestyle can, Llewellyn and his group found.

Another showed healthy habits reduced dementia risk by 32% among those with a family history.

Even though this research can not cure dementia or stop people from entirely developing it, it does spot patterns in order to help reduce the chances of catching the disease.

"Sadly, as genetics still plays an important role in influencing the risk of Alzheimer's, there will always be people who address many or all of these lifestyle factors and still develop the disease". The researchers then scored each factor, assigning participants a "1" if their behaviour was healthy in that category and a "0" if it was unhealthy.

The study, published in this week's issue of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, has several caveats.