After a wide analysis of evidence, researchers have come up with a number of factors that appear to have the strongest influence on the development of Alzheimer's disease.
Nearly 17,000 studies, released from 1968 to 2014, were scrutinized and 323 were chosen - covering 93 different risk factors. After collecting the data and grading factors according to their impact strength, researchers came up with a number that had a Grade 1 impact.
So what are they?
- Oestrogen, Statins, Hypertension drugs and Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) all displayed a protective effect.
- Folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Coffee also had a protective influence.
- High levels of Homocysteine (an amino acid associated with multiple diseases when present in larger amounts) were significantly associated with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's.
These factors are all modifiable: Their intake can be increased with supplementation or dietary changes and homocysteine levels can be lowered through interventions like higher B vitamin consumption.
Aside from these more easily modifiable changes, the meta-analysis also reinforced that pre-existing conditions can influence development:
- Frailty, carotid artery narrowing, high and low blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes (specifically in Asian populations) all increased risk.
- A history of arthritis, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and cancer seemed connected to a lower risk.
There were also some more complicated patterns. High or low body mass index (BMI) in mid-life and poor educational performance heightened risk. But high BMI in later life, brain exercise, light to moderate drinking, stress and smoking (excluding asian populations) appeared to lessen risk.
As you can see, because this was a purely observational study, there are some uncertain connections between variables and there is no exploration of cause and effect. These factors were associated with 2/3 of all cases studied so although they're certainly not a golden ticket to avoiding dementia altogether, they may display changes everyone can make that strongly correlate with lowering your chances of developing Alzheimer's.
Read more at NeuroscienceNews