As many as one in three cases of Alzheimer’s disease worldwide could be prevented by modifying lifestyle factors, according to a study published today (Monday 14 July) in the journal, Lancet Neurology. Such lifestyle factors include smoking, midlife-obesity and physical inactivity.
The study, led by researchers at the Cambridge Institute for Public Health at Cambridge University relied on an analysis of population-based data. It estimated that by reducing the relative risk posed by each lifestyle factor by just ten per cent, it would be possible to prevent nine million cases of dementia by 2050, reducing predicted global prevalence rates by 8.5 per cent. A previous study published in 2011 suggested as many as one in two cases of Alzheimer’s disease could be prevented, but this earlier research is likely to be less accurate as it looked at each of the risk factors independently.
Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society said:
‘This valuable study adds to a growing body of evidence strongly suggesting that simple lifestyle changes can help lower our risk of developing dementia. With 106 million people on this planet expected to be living with the condition by 2050, the prospect of preventing up to one in three cases of Alzheimer’s disease is something we cannot ignore. We must now carefully consider how this new evidence influences public health messaging for dementia risk.
‘In the meantime, we already know that what is good for your heart is good for your head and there are simple things you can start doing now to reduce your risk of developing dementia. Regular exercise is a good place to start as well as avoiding smoking and eating a Mediterranean diet.’