Lifestyle factors linked to reduced risk of dementia and cognitive decline

A new analysis of existing evidence suggests that five lifestyle factors could help reduce the risk of dementia by up to 36%.

Posted on 12th December 2014

A new analysis of existing evidence suggests that five lifestyle factors could help reduce the risk of dementia by up to 36%. The report is published on Monday 15 December by Age UK and available to read online.

For the report, the authors pulled together findings from several observational studies that investigated risk factors for dementia, as well as problems with memory and thinking in later life. Their analysis suggested that five modifiable lifestyle factors were linked with a lower risk of dementia:

  • Physical exercise
  • a Mediterranean diet
  • not smoking
  • drinking alcohol in moderation
  • preventing and treating diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity

Dr Matthew Norton, Head of Policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, said:

“This review of existing research highlights a growing body of evidence suggesting that lifestyle factors play an important role in our risk of dementia and cognitive decline. It’s now recognised across public health authorities that lifestyle changes could contribute to reducing dementia risk. It’s now time for these messages to start reaching the public to help empower people protect their cognitive health as they grow older.

“A number of studies have suggested that what’s good for the heart is good for the brain, and we know that regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, not smoking and not drinking too much can help to reduce the risk of dementia. Evidence also suggests that controlling blood pressure and keeping weight in check may help to lower the risk of the condition.

“It’s important to remember that diseases like Alzheimer’s are complex and are likely to be caused by a mixture of genetic and environmental factors, which are still not fully understood. While there are ways to reduce our risk of dementia, there is currently no sure-fire way to prevent the condition, which is why continued investment in research is vital.”

For more details on dementia risk factors, see our Risk Factors and Prevention information.

Posted in Science news