A third of Alzheimer’s cases are preventable finds research
One in three Alzheimer’s cases worldwide can be attributed to issues that can be modified, according to the latest research carried out by the University of Cambridge.
Led by professor Carol Brayne, the study shows seven risk factors – already identified in the 2011 report – associated with the disease: diabetes, midlife hypertension, midlife obesity, physical inactivity, depression, smoking, and low educational attainment.
The study published in 2011 speculated that one in two Alzheimer’s cases could be potentially preventable by adapting lifestyle factors. However, the new research analyses the risk factors as being independent of one another thus reducing the 2011 findings that close to half of cases are preventable to a third.
Low educational attainment was the factor that showed the greatest Population Attributable Risk (PAR) worldwide, closely followed by physical inactivity as the primary associated factor in the USA, Europe and the UK.
Depression, diabetes, midlife hypertension and obesity, and smoking remained key factors that can either singularly or in combination with each-other contribute to the onset of the disease.
Professor Brayne commented: “Although there is no single way to treat 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 being healthier in old age in general, it’s a win-win situation.”
Physical inactivity was shown to be a crucial factor also liked to other health issues manifesting in later life, notably cancer and cardiovascular problems.
Findings suggest that taking good mental and physical health care throughout life can have a profound effect on the lifespan and physical well-being of a person.
Dr. Simon Ridley, head of research with the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, stated: “This new study also highlights that many cases are not due to modifiable risk factors which underlines the need to drive investment into new treatment research.”