New research into the medical puzzle that is Alzheimer’s Disease has yielded a compelling result — while curing the terrifying condition remains out of reach, prevention may be possible in one-third of future diagnoses.
While research into the causes and risk factors of Alzheimer’s has heretofore been bereft of meaningful advice, it appears that the newest study out of the University of Cambridge in England has made some interesting progress in the fight against the illness.
Worldwide, tens of thousands of older people are living with dementia and other effects of the disease, but in the decades to come and as lifespans increase, that number is expected to nearly triple.
The research that focuses on Alzheimer’s prevention has singled out seven risk factors for the condition, noting that previous research did not focus on overlapping risk factors.
According to the researchers, these seven indicators individually place people at risk for developing the degenerative condition — marked by plaque buildup in the brain and currently without a cure or effective treatment:
- Lack of exercise
- High blood pressure in middle age
- Obesity in middle age
- Low education
Carol Brayne, MD, of the Institute of Public Health at the University of Cambridge, was one of the study’s researchers. In a statement, Brayne explains that the risk factors of Alzheimer’s are also generally linked to poor longevity and health, and that addressing them would be a net positive:
“Although there is no single way to prevent dementia, we may be able to take steps to reduce our risk of developing dementia at older ages. We know what many of these factors are, and that they are often linked… Simply tackling physical inactivity, for example, will reduce levels of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, and prevent some people from developing dementia as well as allowing a healthier old age in general — it’s a win-win situation.”
Doug Brown, PhD, director of research and development at the Alzheimer’s Society in the U.K., said of the findings:
“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 1 in 3 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.”
The research on Alzheimer’s prevention was published in Lancet Neurology.