Risk of Dementia Can Be Reduced By Healthy Lifestyle Despite Genetic Risk

  • Healthy lifestyle can decrease a person's risk of dementia, even though there is a high genetic risk

  • Study says the elderly should exercise more, instead of blaming it on genetic risk

A healthy lifestyle may help decrease a person's risk of getting dementia be it of genetic or any other cause, says a new study, which is the first of its kind. This calls those over their 50s to exercise more often.

The study was led by the University of Exeter. Researchers found that dementia risk was 32 percent lower in people who had a high genetic risk if they had followed a healthy lifestyle, than those following an unhealthy lifestyle.

Experts suggest that adopting dementia risk-reducing techniques such as eating well, not smoking, drinking less alcohol, and being active can significantly reduce one's risk of developing dementia.

Symptoms of people with dementia. Pixabay

Participants of the study who had a high genetic risk of dementia with an unfavorable lifestyle were almost three times more likely to develop the condition. Researchers came at the conclusion after analyzing the data from 196,383 adults with European ancestry 60 and older from UK Biobank, that store genetic data, according to the paper published in the journal JAMA, on Sunday.

Risk Assessment

Researchers looked at previously published data to identified all known genetic risk factors involved in Alzheimer's disease for the risk assessment. The assessment was based according to the weightage of each factor's association with Alzheimer's.

Representational Picture Pixabay

Further, the researchers categorized participants into three groups: favorable, intermediate, and unfavorable, based on their self-reported diet, physical activity, and habits such as smoking, and alcohol consumption.

Researchers considered those as healthy behaviors if they were not currently smoking, doing regular physical activity, having a healthy diet, with moderate alcohol consumption. They found that a healthy lifestyle was associated with a reduced risk of dementia across all genetic risk groups.

One-Third of Cases Preventable

Lead author of the research paper, Dr. Elżbieta Kuźma from the University of Exeter Medical School said that it was first such study analyzing the extent one may offset the genetic risk of dementia by living a healthy lifestyle, reports iNews.

Alzheimer's Society's chief policy and research officer Fiona Carragher said that a third of dementia cases can be prevented by changing the lifestyle. One person every three minutes is developing dementia in the UK, and this research could help in reducing the number, Carragher added.