Even if you have a high genetic risk for developing Alzheimer’s, new research has found that making healthy lifestyle choices can lower your overall risk for the disease, as well as your risk for other forms of dementia.
Researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that a healthy diet, regular exercise, light to moderate alcohol intake, not smoking and engaging in cognitively stimulating activities reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s by 60 percent — when compared to those who only followed one or none of those habits.
The researchers found that even for people who adopted one more of these habits, whatever their current number of lifestyle factors, the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia decreased by an additional 22 percent.
“This study highlights the importance of following multiple healthy lifestyle practices for lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia,” said Dr. Klodian Dhana, an assistant professor at Rush University who participated in the study. “In the U.S., adherence to a healthy lifestyle is low, and therefore promoting these lifestyle factors should become the primary goal for public health policies.”
The research was part of five studies reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles.
About 50 million people have dementia worldwide, and Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type. Genes and lifestyle contribute to many diseases, but researchers only recently have had the tools and information to do large studies to see how much each factor matters.
One such study a few years ago found that healthy living could help overcome genetic risk for heart disease. Now researchers have shown the same to be true for dementia.