According to the results of a study published online July 14, 2019 in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), living a healthy lifestyle is associated with a lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) partly funded the research that was led by researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School in the UK. It was the first study to examine the relationship between multiple genetic risk factors for dementia and multiple lifestyle factors.
The UK Biobank Study
The researchers examined data from 196,383 participants age 60 and older who joined the UK Biobank study from 2006 to 2010. All of the participants did not have cognitive problems or dementia when they joined the study. They were followed up until 2016 or 2017.
The researchers divided participants into groups based on their levels of genetic risks for dementia such as:
Participants were also given a healthy lifestyle score (Favorable, Intermediate or Unfavorable) based on self-reports of:
- Smoking status
- Regular physical activity
- Healthy diet
- Moderate alcohol consumption
- 68.1% of the participants followed a favorable lifestyle
- 23.6% followed an intermediate lifestyle
- 8.2% followed an unfavorable lifestyle
- 20% had high polygenic risks
- 60% had intermediate genetic risk scores
- 20% had low genetic risk scores
Favorable Lifestyle Associated with Lower Dementia Risk
During the eight years of follow-up, 1789 participants developed dementia.
Among seniors without cognitive impairment or dementia, both an unfavorable lifestyle and high genetic risk were significantly associated with higher dementia risk. A favorable lifestyle was associated with a lower dementia risk even among participants with high genetic risk.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most commonly found dementia worldwide. Over five million Americans are believed to be afflicted with it. It usually strikes seniors over the age of 65, but there is an early onset type of Alzheimer’s that can hit people ages 40-55. It is a progressively deteriorating brain disease that leads to severe memory loss, personality changes, sleep disturbances and psychiatric disorders. So far no cure or way of preventing it has been found. Millions of dollars are being invested in research and scientists all over the world are trying to find a way to cure it or to prevent it like with a vaccine. It is listed as the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, but the statistics may be higher, as many cases do not get reported and it is not always listed as the cause of death on a death certificate.
No one knows for certain what causes Alzheimer’s, although genes and lifestyle are believed to play a part. For instance, alcohol abuse has been associated with a high risk for all kinds of dementias. See our blog post from June 8, 2018 to learn more about the risks for developing all kinds of dementias from heavy drinking of alcohol.
Memory Care at the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York
If your loved one suffers from dementia and is in need of special warm memory care, then you might want to consider the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York. Van Duyn also has wonderful recreational therapy programs.
It certainly pays to follow a healthy lifestyle as this lowers the risk for all kinds of dementia including Alzheimer’s.