Published: Tue, July 16, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Leading healthy lifestyle most effective way to prevent dementia

Leading healthy lifestyle most effective way to prevent dementia

According to the study, people who had a genetic risk for developing dementia, but who also followed a healthy lifestyle, were a massive 32-percent less likely to develop the brain disease.

Living a healthy lifestyle is associated with offsetting a person's genetic risk of dementia, according to a new study.

For those leading unhealthy lifestyles, the study showed that 18 out of 1,000 people born with high-risk genes caught the disease.

Kuzma's team analysed data from nearly 197,000 adults of European ancestry who were aged 60 and older.

"This research is exciting in that it shows there are actionable things we can do to try to counteract genetic risk for dementia", said Elzbieta Kuźma, a research fellow at the University of Exeter Medical School who worked on the study.

People who adopted four or five healthy lifestyle habits - a healthy diet, at least 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity, light to moderate drinking, no smoking, and engaging in mentally stimulating activity - reduced their risk of developing Alzheimer's by 60% compared to people who had only one of those healthier behaviors. After eight years, nearly 2% of those with high genetic risk and poor health habits developed a form of dementia. "However it appears that you may be able to substantially reduce your dementia risk by living a healthy lifestyle", said Dr David Llewellyn, another lead author of the study. Out of this sample, the team identified 1,769 cases of dementia over the follow-up period of eight years.

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The University of Exeter led the research - concurrently printed at present in JAMA and presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2019 in Los Angeles.

Previous research had indicated that risk could be cut by up to one third in people without a genetic predisposition, but it was not known if this reduction would also apply to those with increased genetic risk.

Meaning, "There is some evidence that positive lifestyle has already been at work to help reduce the risk", he said. People who didn't now smoke, engaged in regular physical activity, had a healthy diet, and only had moderate levels of alcohol intake were considered to be part of the "favorable" group. "This is the first study to analyse the extent to which you may offset your genetic risk of dementia by living a healthy lifestyle". Researchers disclosed support from the James Tudor Foundation, the Mary Kinross Charitable Trust, the Halpin Trust, the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care for the SouthWest Peninsula and the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia, the National Institute on Aging/NIH, and the Alan Turing Institute.

UniSA Professor Elina Hypponen says the results support the notion that "what's good for your heart is good for your brain".

"We will be working further to establish pathways and drivers of dementia risk".

/University Release. View in full here.

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