A study published this week in the Lancet Neurology indicates that up to half of the cases of Alzheimers Disease may be related to just seven risk factors. The implication is that avoiding or improving these risk factors in your life could substantially reduce your risk of developing Alzheimers Disease in your future years.
The seven risk factors are:
1. Education- the more you have (and presumably the more you keep learning throughout life) the more neurons and connections you build in your brain and the lower your risk
2. Smoking – Quit smoking and your risk of Alzheimers Disease starts to drop
3. Exercise- The more sedentary your lifestyle, the greater your risk. In the USA, this is one of the most common risk factors for Alzheimers Disease.
4. Hypertension- Keeping your blood pressure in good control (which includes healthy eating and exercise in addition to medication) lowers your risk.
5. Diabetes- Developing Type II Diabetes raises your Alzheimers risk. Treating it can lower your risk. But, the same healthy living patterns of improving your diet, weight and exercise can help to delay or avoid Type II Diabetes
6. Obesity- Being overweight increases Alzheimers risk. It also increases your risk of hypertension, diabetes and being sedentary. So putting on the pounds is really a triple whammy.
7. Depression- Untreated depression has long been known to be linked to increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The number of cases of Alzheimers Disease is expected to triple over the next 40 years. But the researchers estimated that reducing these risk factors by just 25% could prevent nearly half a million cases in just the USA.
David Fein, MD
Princeton Longevity Center