1. ITV Report

1 in 3 Alzheimer's cases could be prevented

Alzheimer's has a devastating effect on families. Photo: ITV News Anglia

Click below to see Matthew Hudson's report

With an ageing population, Alzheimer's is a disease affecting more and more of us - with well over 50 thousand sufferers in the East alone. And our region is at the forefront of research into the condition - following a study, scientists in Cambridge say that one in 3 cases of Alzheimer's could be prevented.

Dementia is one of the greatest challenges facing our society.

Jade Rolph works for Alzheimer's Research UK. Her mum developed the condition when she was just 48. Something which had a devastating effect on the whole family.

When you're in your 20's, few people are really aware of what a diagnosis of Alzheimer's means. Unless you've had experience of it in your family. At first it was more confusing than anything, and then as I got to realise the impact it was going to have on my family and what it meant for my mum, then it obviously became very distressing.

– Jade Rolph

Now research in Cambridge is showing that we are not entirely powerless in the face of this dreadful illness. A conference in Copenhagen is hearing that simple lifestyle changes could prevent one in three potential victims from developing the disease.

Seven risk factors associated with Alzheimer's have been identified.

  • Diabetes
  • Midlife hypertension
  • Midlife obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Depression
  • Smoking
  • Low educational attainment

Around two thirds of a million people in this country currently suffer from dementia of whom half a million have Alzheimer's. It's estimated it costs our economy around £23 billion a year.

The scale of the problem is being discussed by politicians at the highest levels, including at recent G8 summits. Lifestyle problems aren't a cure, but until one is found they could save many of us, and our families, from the agony of Alzheimer's.

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