People needn’t fear that Alzheimer’s disease is an inevitable result of aging. A study from Qingdao University in China found that up to two in every three cases of Alzheimer’s could have been prevented if the person had followed one or more of nine lifestyle conditions. The researchers reviewed the findings of 323 studies, altogether involving more than 5,000 patients and comparing 93 conditions with the potential to affect Alzheimer’s risk. Results showed that nine conditions stood out as risk factors for the disease:
- a high body mass index indicating being overweight in middle-age,
- carotid artery disease,
- high blood pressure,
- being frail and unfit,
- being poorly educated,
- having high levels of homocysteine,
- being a smoker, or
- having type 2 diabetes.
Researchers also discovered that the best way to protect the brain was to follow a healthy diet like the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in omega-3-rich seafood, colorful vegetables, and whole grains. Some vitamins, such as folate, also lowered risk.
Researchers at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore report that people who are overweight at age 50-years have a high risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease earlier in life. For each unit increase in body mass index, Alzheimer’s set in about seven months earlier.
In Perspective: After age 65, the risk of Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years. At least two out of five people 85-years-old and older are living with the devastating condition. If that isn’t enough to encourage taking care of yourself, I’m not sure what is!!
Xu W, Tan L, Wang H, et al: Meta-analysis of modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 2015;August 21, 2015.
Chuang Y, An Y, Bilget M, et al: Midlife adiposity predicts earlier onset of Alzheimer’s dementia, neuropathology and presymptomatic cerebral amyloid accumulation. Molecular Psychiatry 2015; September 1st.