A study just published by the journal of the American Medical Association has confirmed that lifestyle and dementia are linked.
The study, covering almost 200,000 people from the age of 64 to 72 found that people can lower their risk of dementia by as much as a third by following a healthy lifestyle.
It also found that this applied even for those where dementia was a family trait.
The findings were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles, California over the weekend.
Researchers gave people a healthy lifestyle score based on a combination of exercise, diet, alcohol and smoking.
Those that did well didn’t smoke, cycled daily, ate more than three portions of vegetables a day, fish twice a week and rarely ate processed meat.
The study followed 196,383 and analysed their DNA to assess their genetic risk of developing the disease.
It showed there were 18 cases of dementia per 1,000 people if they were born with high risk genes and then led an unhealthy lifestyle.
But that went down to 11 per 1,000 people during the study if those high-risk people had a healthy lifestyle.
That number might be small, but the mid-sixties is still young in terms of dementia.
The researchers say cutting dementia rates by a third would have a profound impact in older age groups where the disease is more common.
“It could equate to hundreds of thousands of people,” Dr David Llewellyn, told the BBC.
The type of research involved spots patterns in the data and does not absolutely prove that lifestyle causes different risks of dementia, but it does add to a growing body of evidence.
The results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, fit with previous research and World Health Organization advice.
Currently there is no known cure for or drug to stop dementia, but this research provides a better understanding of its connection to the broad field of diseases known as lifestyle illnesses.
The study conducted by Rush University, Chicago, followed people over a six year period
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