For all of our health talk, one disease that seems to evade us is Alzheimer’s. Aside from the genetic aspect, not a lot is known about prevention other than trying to keep your brain healthy and active. New research published this week has actually been able to pinpoint a few major factors that have a solid link to the development of Alzheimer’s. According to the study, one third of cases world-wide are preventable if people avoid these nine risk-factors that start in childhood and extend into later life.
Before this study, it was assumed that Alzheimer’s may just be one of the risks that comes with ageing. This study gives new hope that the disease is not inevitable, but another thing we can prep our bodies to avoid. There is still no cure for the development of dementia and the hereditary component still exists, but these factors can make our minds more resilient in old age and make development less likely.
The brain develops throughout childhood and education is a key part of that development. There is an increased occurrence of Alzheimer’s in people who did not complete secondary school. By increasing education during early life and completing high school, the research team predicts that eight percent of dementia cases could be eliminated.
The mid-life factors that contribute most to developing Alzheimer’s later in life are obesity, high blood pressure and hearing loss. Further proof that there’s a solid link between a healthy body and a healthy mind. By controlling weight and blood pressure, individuals are three percent less likely to develop the disease. Mid-life hearing loss is a factor in nine percent of Alzheimer’s cases, making it the largest single contributor, likely because of the isolation it can cause for patients.
65 and over
In later life, the most important rules to live by to prevent dementia are: quit smoking, seek early treatment for depression, manage or prevent diabetes and boost exercise and social activities. It seems like the general advice throughout life is just to stay as healthy and active as possible. There are some things on this list that might be out of your control (like hearing loss and diabetes), but most of them are achievable and recommended for general health and happiness too. Most importantly, we now have more concrete information about the non-genetic causes of Alzheimer’s. Hopefully further research like this will lead to finding a cure.