Lifestyle changes can cut dementia risks in 50 and 60-year-olds

People in their 50s and 60s with an unhealthy lifestyle can still halve their risk of developing dementia by cutting out bad habits, using their brains more and taking more exercise, according to researchers at Maastricht University and Utrecht’s teaching hospital.

The impact of lifestyle changes still has an impact on the dementia risks of people in their 70s but not any older, according to the article in the new online edition of Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The researchers have developed an predictive index known as LIBRA to determine the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s based purely on risk factors that can be altered.

‘Many people think dementia cannot be avoided but that is not the case,’ project coordinator Sebastian Kohler told the NRC. ‘It has already been calculated that if everyone lived a healthy lifestyle, the number of Alzheimer patients would go down by a third.’

The index is based on 300 factors known to have a role in developing dementia including depression, diabetes, lack of physical activity, hypertension, obesity, smoking, coronary heart disease, and mild or moderate alcohol use.

The research is based on following nearly 10,000 people who took part in six major European programmes on dementia.

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