Study says that even a 25% drop in factors like obesity, smoking could cut 500,000 U.S. cases.
At present, about 33·9 million people worldwide have Alzheimer's disease (AD), and prevalence is expected to triple over the next 40 years.
New research by Deborah Barnes and Kristine Yaffe suggests that more than half of AD cases globally could be prevented if modifiable risk factors were eliminated, either with lifestyle changes or treatment of underlying conditions.
Some factors appeared to have a greater impact on AD risk than others.
Diabetes – 2.4%
Midlife Hypertension – 5%
Midlife Obesity – 2%
Smoking – 14%
Depression – 10%
Cognitive Inactivity or low educational attainment – 19%
Physical Inactivity – 13%
Taking care of your body just might save your mind
With no cure or treatment to reverse the mind-robbing disease, preventing new cases is crucial. Even reducing the level of risk factors by a modest amount could prevent millions of cases of the memory-robbing illness, the researchers said.
For example, a 25 percent reduction in these seven common risk factors could prevent up to 3 million AD cases around the world and up to half a million in the United States alone, the study found.
YOU can do something to prevent AD!
Barnes DE, Yaffe K. The projected effect of risk factor reduction on Alzheimer's disease prevalence. The Lancet Neurology, Early Online Publication, 19 July 2011
Even if you start late in life, physical activity can help preserve mental ability.
And it’s not just jogging, swimming or biking, but maybe just moving around the house, doing chores, walking outside, may also be important for protection against cognitive impairment.
Middleton LE et al. Activity Energy Expenditure and Incident Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults. Arch Intern Med. Published online July 19, 2011. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.