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Report: Smoking, obesity and early-life education may affect dementia

A new report has made the case for raising awareness about the way lifestyle choices can affect your risk of dementia later in life.

It points out "there is no evidence strong enough at this time to claim that lifestyle changes will prevent dementia on an individual basis". However, evidence suggests the following could result in a lower risk:

  • Stopping smoking
  • Improved detection and treatment of diabetes and hypertension
  • Increased physical activity and reduction in levels of obesity
  • Education in early life

Strong evidence linking healthy lifestyle to low dementia risk

Dr Eric Karran, director of research at charity Alzheimer's Research UK, has welcomed today's report, saying:

Although there is currently no certain way to prevent dementia, this report underlines strong evidence suggesting we can lower our risk by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

A large body of research has linked high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes to an increased risk of dementia, and this analysis serves as another reminder that good heart health is an important route to good brain health.

Studies have also suggested that education in early life may help build a level of 'cognitive reserve', helping the brain to withstand the damage from diseases like Alzheimer's for longer in later life.

– Dr Eric Karran, Alzheimer's Research UK


Health experts call for campaign to highlight how lifestyle affects dementia risk

Health experts are calling for a major campaign to educate people about how their lifestyle choices can affect their chances of developing dementia in old age.

Factors such as smoking and early-life education can affect your risk of developing dementia, the report finds Credit: PA

Factors such as early-life education, blood pressure and smoking can all play a role, according to a report commissioned by Alzheimer's Disease International.

The report argues for a campaign with a central message that "it's never too late" to make lifestyle changes, and that brain health should be factored into other public health campaigns.

Alzheimer's Disease International said that a major survey of 8,500 people from six countries showed that many are not sure how to reduce the risk of developing dementia.

Increased Alzheimer's risk 'in long-term sedative users'

A new study "reinforces the suspicion of an increased risk of Alzheimer-type dementia among benzodiazepine users, particularly long-term users," French and Canadian researchers said.

The scientists identified 1,700 elderly people with Alzheimer's disease and more than 7,000 healthy people for comparison.

Long-term users in particular seemed to have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive

Past use of benzodiazepines for three months or more was associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's, according to the study's results.

The risk varied between 43% and 51% and the strength of association increased with the longer exposure, they said.

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