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Is there anything you can do to reduce the risk of dementia if you have a higher genetic risk?  According to a recent study by Adrienne Tin and colleagues at the John Hopkins University in Maryland, the answer is YES.

New Scientist’s Jason Arunn Murugesu discussed the study with Adrienne, with the following particular points:

  • Lifestyle Factors at Middle Age (average age 54) can be put on a 14 point scale

(14 is highest positive factors, 0 is the lowest positive factors)

  • The lifestyle factors are:
    • Stop Smoking
    • Healthy Diet
    • Healthy Weight
    • Physically Active
    • Controlled Blood Sugar
    • Control Cholesterol Levels
    • Controlled Blood Pressure
  • An improvement of 1 point on the scale reduces the risk by 8%

The genetic risk (European descent) can increase the risk by 1.5 to 2.7 times. However, improving these lifestyle factors has a tangible and real reduction in risk of dementia.  The most important message: the earlier you make the changes, the better.

This study followed 11,000 people for an average of 26 years (between 1987 and 2019).

References:

Tin A, Bressler J, Simino J, Sullivan K J, Mei H, Windham B G, Griswold G M, Gottesman R F, Boerwinkle E, Fornage M, Mosley T H.(2022) Genetic Risk, Midlife Life’s Simple 7, and Incident Dementia in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. Neurology,

Murugesu J A (2022) 7 things to do to avoid dementia even if you have high genetic risk.  New Scientist.

 

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