Even if dementia runs in the family, the risk is lowered by leading a healthy lifestyle, new research has discovered.
The team of researchers at the University of Exeter in England, found this interesting and promising information while gathering data on nearly 200,000 people. They discovered that the risk can be lowered by as much as one third.
The study was published on Sunday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and was revealed at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Los Angeles, U.S.
What is a "healthy lifestyle"?
The researchers considered people with a healthy lifestyle as those who scored highly in a combination of diet, smoking, exercise, and alcohol.
A healthy person would:
- Not currently be a smoker
- Cycle or exercise at a normal pace for at least two hours a week
- Eat a balanced diet with at least three vegetable or fruit portions a day, eat fish twice a week and rarely eat processed meats
- Drink only up to one pint of alcohol a day
And an "unhealthy" one?
Those who scored as leading unhealthy lifestyles would encompass the following points:
- Smokes regularly
- Does not exercise regularly
- Eats only up to three vegetable or fruit portions per week, and eats up to or more than two processed meat servings per week
- Drinks a minimum of three pints a day
What did the study discover about the lifestyle link to dementia?
The study analyzed the DNA of 196,383 people from the age of 60 years old upwards, over eight years.
The aim was to assess the genetic risks of developing dementia.
Living a healthy lifestyle may help offset a person’s genetic risk of #dementia, according to new @ExeterMed research. Read the full story: https://t.co/d2Am6iQvtw #ExeterDementia pic.twitter.com/86EpgC7Ina— University of Exeter (@UniofExeter) July 14, 2019
For those leading unhealthy lifestyles, the study showed that 18 out of 1,000 people born with high-risk genes caught the disease.
Whereas only 11 out 1,000 of high-risk people caught it if they led a healthy lifestyle.
Even though these may not seem like hugely diverse numbers between healthy and unhealthy people, the researchers said that even cutting dementia rates by a third would have a strong impact on older age groups where the disease is more common.
Sixty years old is still considered young in terms of developing dementia.
A new study from @ExeterMed suggests that a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of dementia even if you have a higher genetic probability. Listen to @cawalton as she tells us more. https://t.co/uybcii2wyz pic.twitter.com/Jdi0h6DBwF— Alzheimer's Society (@alzheimerssoc) July 15, 2019
Dr. Davild Llewellyn, the joint lead author of the study, said "It could equate to hundreds of thousands of people," if the number of people developing dementia was cut down by a third.
Even though this research cannot cure dementia or stop people from entirely developing it, it does spot patterns in order to help reduce the chances of catching the disease.
It also sheds light on the belief that everyone with dementia was passed down their genes and is 100 percent set on developing the disease. Even those people predisposed genetically can minimize their risks.
"This research delivers a really important message that undermines a fatalistic view of dementia. Some people believe it's inevitable they'll develop dementia because of their genetics. However it appears that you may be able to substantially reduce your dementia risk by living a healthy lifestyle," said Llewellyn.