Offset Risk of Dementia with Healthy Lifestyle

A new study at the University of Exeter has discovered another good reason to live a healthy lifestyle! The research found that in people with a high genetic risk for developing dementia the risk was 32 percent lower if they followed a healthy lifestyle.

Study participants who had a high genetic risk and led an unhealthy lifestyle were almost three times more likely to develop the disease compared to participants who led a favorable lifestyle and had a low genetic risk of developing dementia.

This study was the first to analyze to what extent a person might offset their genetic risk of developing dementia when living a healthy lifestyle. The findings show that when a person takes action to do their best to offset the risk by living healthy, they can make a difference regardless of the genetic risk.

The study included analyzed data from 196,383 adults aged 60 and older and of European ancestry. The research team identified 1,769 cases of dementia during the follow up period of eight years. The study team grouped all participants into three groups…those with low genetic risk, intermediate genetic risk and high risk.

To assess the genetic risk, the team studied previously published data and then identified known genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s. Every genetic risk factor was weighted through the strength of its association with this disease.

To assess lifestyles, the team groups all participants into unfavorable, intermediate and favorable categories which were based on self reported physical activity, diet, alcohol consumption and smoking. The team considered regular physical activity, no current smoking, moderate alcohol consumption and healthy diet as healthy behaviors.

The study team discovered that living a healthy lifestyle was linked to a reduced dementia risk across all the genetic risk groups. The team reports that their research delivers a very important message that undermines the fatalistic views of dementia. Many people believe that developing dementia is inevitable due to their genetics. However, because of this new study, it appears people may be able to substantially reduce their risk of development the disease through healthy lifestyle habits.

To view the original scientific study click below

Association of Lifestyle and Genetic Risk With Incidence of Dementia