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A Third of All Alzheimer’s Cases can be Prevented

Update Date: Jul 15, 2014 03:06 PM EDT

Alzheimer's disease, which is the most common form of dementia, affects around five million older Americans according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA). It can be a highly debilitating disease and researchers have been studying ways to prevent it or delay its onset. In a new study, researchers examined seven risk factors for Alzheimer's and found that roughly one-third of all cases can be prevented.

"Although there is no single way to prevent dementia, we may be able to take steps to reduce our risk of developing dementia at older ages. We know what many of these factors are, and that they are often linked," study researcher Carol Brayne, MD, from the Institute of Public Health at the University of Cambridge, stated according to WebMD. "Simply tackling physical inactivity, for example, will reduce levels of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, and prevent some people from developing dementia as well as allowing a healthier old age in general -- it's a win-win situation."

For this study, the researchers from the University of Cambridge, England looked at seven risk factors, which were lack of exercise, diabetes, high blood pressure during middle age, obesity during middle age, depression, smoking and poor education. The team estimated that if the effect of each risk factor could be cut down by 10 percent, around nine million cases of dementia could be prevented by 2050. Current numbers estimate that by 2050, there will be 106.2 million people with the disease throughout the world.

"This valuable study adds to a growing body of evidence strongly suggesting that simple lifestyle changes can help lower our risk of developing dementia," Doug Brown, PhD, director of research and development at the Alzheimer's Society in the U.K., commented. "With 106 million people on this planet expected to be living with the condition by 2050, the prospect of preventing up to 1 in 3 cases of Alzheimer's disease is something we cannot ignore. We must now carefully consider how this new evidence influences public health messaging for dementia risk."

The study, "Potential for primary prevention of Alzheimer's disease: an analysis of population-based data," was published in the journal, Lancet Neurology.

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