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The seven factors that could reduce dementia risk

Posted on the 2nd March 2023

Middle Age Dementia factors

A 20-year-long study has revealed the seven healthy habits and lifestyle choices that are key in reducing the risk of dementia.

The study followed 13,720 women with an average age of 54 at the start of the research and, over a period of two decades, identified that 1,771 (13 per cent) of the participants had developed dementia.

While the findings of the study are due to be presented in April at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting, preliminary results highlight factors in middle age that may reduce the chances of developing conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

These include:

  • Being active
  • Eating well
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Not smoking
  • Keeping normal blood pressure
  • Controlling cholesterol
  • Having low blood sugar

For each of the seven health factors, people were given a score of zero for poor or ‘intermediate’ health, and one point for ideal health, leading to a total possible score of seven. The average score was 4.3 at the start of the study and 4.2 a decade later.

After adjusting for factors such as age and education, researchers found that for every increase of one point in the score, a person’s risk of dementia fell by 6 per cent.

However, the researchers cautioned that there were limitations to their study, including the fact they were unable to look at how factors such as quitting smoking influenced the risk of dementia later in life.

The US study echoes similar findings from Chinese researchers who said a combination of healthy lifestyle choices such as eating well, regularly exercising, playing cards and socialising at least twice a week may help slow the rate of memory decline and reduce the risk of dementia.

Dementia is one of the world’s biggest health threats. The number of people living with the condition worldwide is forecast to nearly triple to 153 million by 2050, and experts have said it presents a major and rapidly growing threat to future health and social care systems in every continent.

Related: Eight daily glasses of water ‘excessive’

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